Whenua by Graeme Priddle and Melissa Engler

Currency:USD Category:Art Start Price:100.00 USD
Whenua by Graeme Priddle and Melissa Engler
All pieces are signed originals, individually created by the artist listed.
Graeme Priddle and Melissa Engler
Asheville, North Carolina

Mahogany, acrylic paint, milk paint
Carved, textured, painted
1.8" x 5.25"

Includes framed poem

Theme statement
This is our second collaboration with Asheville poet Michael C. Boyko whose accompanying words convey a sense of rhythm and the continuing cycle of life and land.

About the piece
The exterior design on this bowl is inspired by the unfolding fronds of the Mamaku (black tree fern) that grew on my property in New Zealand; some of these amazing ferns grow up to 60’ high.
The spiral pattern, or ‘koru,' is the symbol for growth and birth in Maori culture. In Maori language, the word ‘whenua’ is used to for both land and placenta, thereby signifying the connection established between the two. Most Maori women these days deliver their babies in a hospital and live far away from their ancestral lands. To ensure that the connection between their child and the land is continued the mother or a close relative prepares a special basket, represented in this piece by the bowl form. The placenta is placed in the basket, which is then carried to the mother’s home by the father or a grandparent of the newborn baby. After that, the family takes the placenta back to their ancestral lands for burial. The placenta is typically planted with a tree, as trees signify ongoing life.
This spiral pattern of the koru is also reflected in the inner spiral found in ammonite fossils, living organisms that have been reclaimed by the earth over millennia.


As everything needs to be held

What we collect within to spill
Upon that which grows without
Knowing sheds what we collect

To hold ourselves within what waits
As our need to accept the held shape
Into which we are poured to hold

That which grows without knowing
Sheds what we collect within
To spill upon that which grows without

Our need to accept the held shape
Into which we are poured to hold ourselves
Within what waits as our

Knowing sheds what we collect
Within to spill upon that which grows
Without knowing

The held shape into which we are poured
To hold ourselves within what waits
As our need to accept the held

As everything needs to be held

--Michael C. Boyko

About the poem
This poem is based on two looping sentences that hook up with each other in different spots to create a simultaneously recursive and iterative effect. The form mimics the shape of the bowl itself, while also calling to mind the spiral pattern, or 'koru,' that adorns so apt a shape. The language is deliberately simple, and the form deliberately complex, because that, to me, is the essence of a deceptively mundane, everyday object like a bowl. Graeme and Melissa do a great job of belying that simplicity with their intricate design work, and reinforcing that with language was a rare and uniquely wonderful challenge for me. Through this collaboration, I was able to pay homage to the shape of an object that is taken for granted everyday, and to the natural world that inspired its invention. Seriously, I never thought writing about a bowl could be so rewarding. But then, I never tried writing about a bowl that had quite this much presence.
Michael C. Boyko

About the artists
Graeme Priddle has over 20 years experience in the woodworking field, best known for his sculptural turnings/carvings reflecting his life and environments in Northland, New Zealand. He has won numerous awards for his work, which has been exhibited widely in New Zealand, UK, Japan, Taiwan, France, Germany, U.S.A and Canada. He is very active in the wood turning world and commits his time and talent to many creative endeavours. He has served on the committee of the New Zealand National Association of Woodturners for five years as well as being instrumental in establishing the New Zealand ‘CollaboratioNZ’ Conferences in 1998. Graeme has demonstrated and taught for numerous woodworking and woodturning groups and at many woodworking events throughout the world.

Melissa Engler is a sculptor and furniture maker. "I am deeply interested in conservation and the sacred quality of plants and animals. Simultaneously I am fascinated by the cycles of consumption and violence that are inherent in natural systems. Being that these two concepts are somewhat at odds with each other, I feel compelled to create work that allows me to examine these concerns without having to find words or perfect answers. My hope is that the pieces convey a sense of our primal connection to our environment and evoke an awareness of its tenuous state."