In Māori mythology the manaia is a guardian that is said to cross between the spirit and human world. Depicted as part-bird and part-human, it is a figure that to me reflects an ongoing connection between people and birds within the world we both inhabit. I'm interested in the different values we place on our native birds - how we record them, desire to protect them, or draw on them as symbols of nationhood or identity.
Over the past years, I have been exploring a series of works that take inspiration from various native birds; examining characteristics, forms, and sculptural potentials presented through my research process. Some are larger scale, individual works, which build from an earlier interest in traditional food storage, serving, and ceremonial vessel forms. Others continue with my interest in the classification and historic illustration of New Zealand birds, particularly the practice of recording species in male/female pairs.
I have used this exhibition as an opportunity to further explore and extend the possibilities of certain forms, in particular the Kumete/Kumete Manu series. I have been looking at ways of approaching the different planar surfaces of the bowl to bring specific character to each work. I also consider colour and opacity of the glass in these (and other) forms, as a way of exploiting the impact of new planes and details on the surface of the vessel. I use black glass specifically to draw attention to mass, volume and surface; taking advantage of the ambiguity that attaches to this colour when its transparent properties are removed.
Mike Crawford, April 2017