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The making of a sculpture


Here you can read the story and inspiration behind the design.

Waiata O Te Takapu - Song of the Gannet

I finally finished the sculpture I began at Otaihanga Domain. This sculpture was commissioned for someone living near a gannet colony by Cape Kidnappers in Hawkes Bay. I was asked to incorporate a gannet into the sculpture. I have therefore named this sculpture “Waiata o te Takapu” - Song of the Gannet.

As you know, the gannet or takapu is a large seabird with long pointed wings and long bills, which can be found in the temperate seas around New Zealand.

This sculpture shows nga hau e wha - the four winds (children of Tawhirimatea-atua of the Wind) swirling around raising a takapu and its song higher and higher. The winds are depicted by two koru and two hei matau which also have the appearance of musical notes. The koru represent growth and vitality, hei matau are taonga that represent strength, and prosperity. Legend has it that the North Island of New Zealand (Te Ika a Maui) is the fish raised by Maui. The shape of Hawkes Bay is the hei matau (fish hook) that Maui used to raise the fish. The song of the Takapu heralds the relationship with the brothers – Tane Mahuta (land) Tangaroa (sea) and Tawhirimatea (wind).

I began this sculpture at the Stone Carving Symposium in Otaihanga Domain. It went through a number of transformations, as I changed and removed parts I didn't like. This was the first time I decided to forge ahead without a plan, which I found it both exciting and frustrating. I had a plan of sorts for this sculpture when I began, but that went out the window on day one. From then on I went with the flow, confident that the stone would show me the way, which is very out of character for me. It was really exciting, but slow going as I was afraid to remove too much in case I needed it. The only idea I hung onto was the feeling of the wind. I tried to keep it flowing, but with a certain randomness as well.

I originally started with a large beak/love heart shape as a focal point that gave me something work around. As the piece developed it made less sense and needed to be removed. Keeping with the wind theme - I needed four elements (the four winds). The koru's and the hei matau's gave it a sense of balance. It had always been my idea from the start to have the takapu at full stretch riding the wind currents. It was just a matter of how best to depict this. I decided on a blend of realism and abstract. I had an idea of the takapu riding on layers of ribbons to portray the wind but it looked too busy, so I removed them - keeping one which became the song. This piece has lots to look at - a lot of movement and depth, and several themes that culminate in the "Waiata O Te Takapu" – my Song of the Gannet sculpture.



Brett Keno
New Zealand Stone Carving Artist and Sculptor

July 2008

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