A new 'Offcut' series from Welfe Bowyer ~ View HERE ~

The journey of 'ipu uku' by Olivia Asher



We are so pleased to have 'ipu uku' displayed in store, to have more wonderful mahi by Olivia Asher (Ngāti Tūwharetoa); who has become such a special maker to us here at KAUKAU.

Thank you Olivia for taking the time to share your experience and your beautiful words to capture the process of ipu uku. 


"This collection is an accumulation of my identity. Through the process of making, I unearth my identity with the earth itself. In order to feel closer to my whakapapa, I needed to feel closer to the whenua. I wanted to create a cohesive collection of ipu uku that speaks to both my Māori and Pākehā identity.

These works reference the hue (gourd), a hollowed out vegetable used as a tool (vessel - ipu) to carry water by Māori. Though I reference the hue a lot in the making of these works, the reference of the body and femininity in uku came about as well – especially in the curvature of the ipu. They became living things, holders of water and life, rather than just an object.


All of the pieces were made concurrently with each other, so whilst I was waiting for uku to dry on one, I would tend to the other. As my works are entirely hand built, this process began to feel like a nurturing relationship – each ipu representing a physical version of my own personal pursuits and growth. My memory embedded into the memory of the uku.

There is a deeply satisfying feeling with hand building uku; it is tactile, it is messy and it is an extension of the human touch and often gravity will play a part in this too – especially with these works. The inward curvatures of the pieces would often slouch, giving way to gravity, but this only helped me listen to where the uku wanted to go.

The glaze process attributes itself to my painting practice - inherently merging my sculptural and painting practice. My approach to glazing these works was painterly and gestural, with mark making and dripping nature. Glazing is always the most freeing part of the process, it is wildly different to the sculpting part. There is less control and need to be precise – it is quite liberating to be met with such freedom at the last stage of making.

There is a continuous use of a koru motif throughout the series, both in the glaze (which is drawn on) and in small carved markings on some of the ipu – ultimately harmonising them."


View 'ipu uku' by Olivia Asher