Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

Orca Dorsal


  • Medium: kauri, MDF base
  • Size: 9.5 × 32 × 5 inches on base
  • Reference Code: K171103


As an introduction to the Spirit Wrestler Gallery I wanted to acknowledge the Tangata whenua (people of the land) by creating an artwork that speaks of the connections that we share as indigenous peoples of the Pacific Rim. The Orca I feel is a creature that symbolises these links and is represented in both Maori and First Nations cultures as a Kaitiaki (guardian).

It is one creature that I have witnessed on several occasions being a surfer and a man of the water. Its sheer size, streamlining form and contrasting colours are all features I find intriguing. The fact that they are hunters rather than scavengers with a pack like mentality speaks of a strong family unit. They are highly intelligent creatures that are emotionally attached to each of their own and will do whatever it takes to guide and protect each other in order to survive as we would within our own whanau, hapu,iwi, (family, subtribe, tribe).

Therefore as well as being the ultimate sea predator, the Orca possesses a strong nurturing quality to which I admire and respect. These qualities I hope to capture in the fluid design and contrasting colours through positive and negative space.

Dan Couper

Dan Couper


(1977- )

Born in Wairoa, Dan is of Ngati Kahungunu descent. He attended Te Aute College in Hawkes Bay where amongst other studies he excelled in art. After college Dan moved to Rotorua and studied at Waiariki Institute of Technology gaining the Diploma of ‘Art, Craft and Design Maori’. Among the tutors were George Andrews and Lionel Grant who became the greater influences in his art development. After completing his diploma Dan began his professional art career in 1999.