Kakahu (Chiefs Cloak)
This Kakahu is 900mm high x 500mm wide at its base. It consists of 98 individual pieces laced together. Weight 9 kilos
Wright is a self, taught Artist whose ceramic work exhibits a strong narrative element and a New Zealand sensibility. Wright has participated in Solo shows and exhibits across New Zealand in addition to showing his work Internationally –
A proud New Zealander born in Balclutha brought up in a small country town of Waimana in the Bay of Plenty my work is an expression of the landscape and environment in which I live. I enjoy the excitement of opposites, the contradiction of harmony the positive/the negative, the shiny/the matt, the smooth/the textured, the large/ the small, the controversial.
I specialise in series, in commissions and one off individual handcrafted pieces.
My work has been exhibited internationally in England, Yugoslavia, Austria, Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Australia, and Canada as well as in New Zealand's Fletcher Challenge International Exhibition.
KAKAHU (Chiefs Cloak)
Fewer than 20 Kakahu have been made including one bought by the Governor General for Government House in Wellington. Trevor Wright explains the process;
I am inspired by the environment and influences around me. I first started making cloaks in 2003 using a soft sheet of clay texturing and patterning the surface and folding to become an upright statuette.
About the same time, we moved to a new house in Palmerston North and I had to dismantle my 64 cubic foot brick town gas fired kiln. For some time, I used my small 1 cubic foot electric test kiln and Gas kiln made from a tin rubbish bin lined with ceramic fibre.
Having the desire to again make larger works the Kakahu series was inspired.
Working within the limitations of a 1 cubic ft kiln, scale was increased by lacing together several small individually crafted pieces. A simple shape was used to suggest the outline of a cloak enhancing the complexity, patterns, clay textures and glazes.
Each Kakahu is individually unique it has its own pattern and design. It is made from a large hand rolled single sheet of clay which is cut into individual tiles. Each tile is handled at least 14 times during the making process. They have individually hand shaped corners rounded edges smoothed holes drilled and cleared individual grooves cut in the back to prevent warping and lessen weight. Each tile has its place and are individually numbered to aid reassembly.
The Kakahu is air dried for a few weeks then bisc fired (as in the colour of biscuit) to 960º C in oxidation in an electric kiln.
The individual pieces are glazed (except where black is needed to allow the carbon to burn into the clay) They are then rapidly fired to over 1000º C in 10 minutes in a gas fired rubbish bin kiln in small batches not only to achieve individuality and uniqueness but also an overall uniformity in colour.
The pieces are removed red hot from the kiln with tongs dumped into a tin with natural saw dust covered and left to cool.
The combustible material burns the oxygen from the air the clay and glaze to give the lustres and special craze glaze effects.
The firing process is controllable but unpredictable. Losses can be high.
The pieces are removed carefully cleaned assembled by lacing together with Copper wire soldered and fixed to a steel hanging frame.