The exact shape and contours were directed by Lewis in the hot shop to be as close as possible to the traditional Maori adze blade (toki) form, although the adze was also a common Northwest Coast carving implement. As the adze in Maori culture represents genealogy dating back to the first man, I chose a spirit human form representing the first Northwest Coast carver.
This sculpture honours the revered adze form. The adze, like most early Maori pieces, was a functional implement with a greenstone (pounamu - nephrite jade) blade having the ability to hold a very sharp edge. The pounamu material was highly sought-after and prized by Maori as valuable taonga (treasures). When these tools were not used, the blades were sometimes worn to keep them safe and show the translucency of the stone. Eventually over time, with the introduction of steel, the adze took on a new form of the tiki. The adze is still regarded as an important sculptural form of the two mediums — wood and pounamu.
Collaboration for the Fire & Water: Pacific Visions in Glass and Jade exhibition, 2007.
Collaborations between great artists are historically rare, despite frequent attempts and enthusiastic interest to bring technical skills and artistic chemistry together. In the end, it often seems that personal careers, distance, and other issues make these projects too difficult to realize. What makes this particular collaboration even more remarkable is that the two artists are geographically in different hemispheres — almost at polar opposites of the world.
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