Susan Lawrence was kind to introduce me to Waihimi Hotere who works at Creative Waikato’s. She is an expert of Maori Arts. We had a meeting  in September to discuss about Maori culture so I could gathered details and ideas for my art project.

I got huge amount of information, kind of inside knowledge of habits, meanings, symbolism, explanations for many traditions. I would like bring out few topics here. These topics I feel the closest for myself and I would love to bring into my work somehow.

First of all Maori tattoos:

Their tattoos are not just a nice looking tribal. They are all uniquely designed and they present ‘Whakapapa’’ which tells who you really are. In tattoos and other Maori art you might have seen plenty of these symmetrical spirals. These spirals meaning is to bring a future and a past together as a present. However in Maori culture if you do not have whakapapa, you will not get a tattoo either.

Maori tattoo culture is very fascinating. I especially find curious how men and women have their own names for tattoos, and each gender can take tattoos only on specific places of body and face.

Women can wear ‘Ta moko’s on their:

  • A chin – cause they are the speakers of the family, they are calling you, they charm you.
  • A forehead, between eyebrows- ‘Third eye’, seeing in a future, shows the wisdom.
  • Wrist- as decorations, bracelets.

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Men wear ‘Puhoro’s: these tattoos are more of status symbols or the way to show the merits of their achievements. There can have whole facial tattoos or only half of a face. Men can have full bodies tattooed, sleeves, legs tattooed like wearing shorts etc.

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Tattoos are also way to show the hierarchy in a family or their tribe. Usually the older generations have large tattoos, because they have more of life wisdom and experience.

I brought up a question of death. In Maori tales the woman was the one who became death and made all the rest of the Tanemahuta’s children mortal.  I find this folktale, fiery and cruel, but somehow also fascinating.  In this tale you can sense the Death’s anger and revengeful. This brought up Maori’s ‘Utu’ which means seeking of revenge.

Revenge used to be important thing in their culture: Killing someone for hurting your loved ones, having an honor.

You might have seen Maoris way to greeting people by rubbing their noses and foreheads together.  It is called ‘Ahora’ which means love and compassion. They believe that nothing could be closer than breathing the same air. If you think carefully nothing really is more intimate and heart-warming than their ‘Ahora’, while breathing closely the same air.

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Last, but not least: Forrest Spirits

In the ‘Birth of Daylight’ tale there is loads of Gods which are Mother Earth’s and Father Sky’s offspring. I would like to think them as a spirits. There are multiple tales of forest spirits in many cultures. So that brought an idea of that must be real than (?)

Also there is a belief that if you get lost in a forest, it might that a forest spirit has left you.

To gather more knowledge and get to know this fascinating culture I will watch some Maori movies and have visits in museums. Also it would be good for me to meet an actual Maori art maker.


Born of woman, before she becomes death

Mother Earth crying for being apart from her love

Butterfly masks in Maori tattoos style


Living in Hamilton


Phew! These seven weeks have gone really fast.

I started ‘The Birth of Daylight’- project by collecting data, manufacture ideas by sketching and painting. I needed to get to know the folktale better, understand the culture, discover the characters and pick my favorite schemes of the story.

I’ve photographed a lot, and updated my blog with these pictures how I have made ​​progress in this project, but I have not really told anything about the Waikato pottery or where I live at the moment.

First of all, I live in Waikato region, Hamilton, where a population is around 220,000. This city is divided into two: the old section (where you can find a museum, art galleries and yuppie shops for wealthy) and the new area (young people appropriate this region cause of the shopping malls).

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Hamilton, Rotorua lake.

Hamilton is a lovely small city. Reminds me little bit Finland: rivers, lakes, nature. Friendly people. However here is also awful lot of industrial site where you can find hardware stores, car repair shops, fast food chains, and other every man’s (and ceramicists) dream building tool stores.

I live in an old area, at ceramic artist’s Susan St Lawrence’s place. She is from Auckland. She has lived in Hamilton for three years now, and likes it here more than in Auckland. The reasons for this mainly are shorter distances and simple way to create professional networks, and new friendships.

In any case, Waikato ceramics facilities are not far away from Susan’s place. 2.7 kilometre journey passes quickly every day to the workshop which is good for my kind of lazy athlete.


Hamilton isn’t the bike friendliest cities thought. Need to be really careful that you won’t get hit by a car. It seems that owning a car here is quite necessary, if you would like stay here more permanently. It surely is  the safest and most secure way to move around.

Although Susan’s house is comfortable to stay in, I still find myself feeling a little bit awkward occasionally. You know, staying another person’s house in a guest bedroom three months. Everyone has their own personal routines and habits.

I suffer slightly obsessed cleaning (thanks to my biological mother’s and step mother’s cleaning habits). So I normally tempt to keep everything tidy and clean. This time I try to hold myself back, because I realize that this is not my house. I can’t just take the control and keep stepping someone else’s territory. I only tidy and clean a guest room, and of course clean up my own mess from a kitchen.

Three months living without normal daily cleaning routines is quite challenging. Even though I have my own room and privacy I still miss personal time all alone. This is not exactly living like in student halls where you can just shut down other roomies by closing the door. Unfortunately I am kind of lonely wolf, who enjoys alone time awfully lot. Not everyone can understand that and sometimes it is considered being rude.

However it is so far so good. It has been alright last month and a half.

New Zealand Spring is full of surprises! When I arrived here the weather was so cold that I had to wear two pyjama bottoms and sleep with a fleece jacket on. Next thing I knew the weather was boiling hot and I got sunburned! Spring surely here is dodgy. I don’t go anywhere without my back bag filled with raincoat, sunglasses, sketchbook, pencils and water bottle.


Waikato Society of Potters is the Waikato’s leading pottery teaching center. They offer a range of classes to suit all abilities, click on classes to learn more. Waikato’s pottery club activities range from trips to visit potter’s studios, exhibitions, Raku and wood firings and open days.


20140923_091017Also The Waikato Society of Potters has an active resident potters program. The objective of the WSP Resident Potter’s program is to nurture an emerging potter into a more professional practicing artist with support from the members and staff of the WSP. In exchange the Resident Potter will help promote the WSP to the public and engage with the members and students of the WSP.

It is a two way relationship; the Resident Potter gaining access to experience, skills and equipment and the WSP benefiting from your enthusiasm and commitment to the craft of pottery. There is an expectation that the successful candidate for the Resident Potter’s position will be able to commit to a set number of hours per week that they will be in attendance in the space.

Currently they have 4 residents, and I am the fifth, ‘over seas’, resident (known as the Finnish girl). What I like most about here is the friendly and kind atmosphere: Encouraging, sharing and helpful people.  I have got to know so many wonderful potters and artists, so it has been hard not to enjoy my time here.

Link to Susan St Lawrence website:

Link to Waikato Potter’s website:

Have I made any progress?


I tell you peeps, three months isn’t much time for making proper ceramic pieces. Not the way that I make them. The decorating process will take most of my time, so don’t have that much time any more concentrate on forms. However this is what I have got, and hopefully this line shows the making/developing process.

Hopefully I do not have to mention separately which side are the current ones, and which right at the beginning of my residency.

20141021_174341From size to 150 cm to over 40 cm.20141021_174831 Plates from 20 cm to 50 cm.

Test tiles


Here are my new color palette’s test results. Not happy at all for the earthenware temperature tests, but stoneware colors are brilliant! They the lovely translucency what water colors have. Might have to make some difficult compromises, because the higher I firer my ceramic pieces, the bigger risks there might be with  twisting/cracking or some other unpleasant surprises if I have not built my work well.


 Stoneware/mid range 1220 °C – Used my own stains20141021_172923 These are the vintage colors from 1926’s. The Reds and yellows have turned brownish or burned away in 1220 °C. However the all the blues are amazing.

?Mystery blue? turned out to be green after all. Slight disappointment (a tile on a right side, second last line )

Earthenware 1060-1080  °C – Used own stains. The colors are not bright, and they look a bit dirty. 20141021_172841 Vintage stains from 1926’s after earthenware firing 1060-1080 °C. All the reds still turned brown or burned away, and all the colors looks that they have not meted well. Except brown one looks quite great for my opinion. 20141021_172750

Vintage stains from 1926’s


20141017_104203This week I mixed some new ceramic water colors for my palette. The actual stains what I used are from 1926‘s, from good old Stoke-On-Trent, England. Can you imagine this? These colors are true vintage! Even the packages were tiny brown paper bags with a very delicate handwriting on a side.

I really wish that these colors will work. From ‘Dragon red’, ‘Butterfly orange’, ‘Apple green’ and ‘Italian yellow’ I have so high hopes ! Also I have at least 12 different shades of blue here too. One I named ‘?Mystery Blue?’ cause it wasn’t labelled.

This is quite an amazing piece of information to add part of my newest ceramic project’s tale, don’t you think?

I am so ready to test this color palette! Today I filled a kiln with my mid-range test tiles (1220°C). Next week I will fire earthenware tests (1060-1080 °C).

‘Hinetitama’ (1980) by Robyn Kahuwika



Hinetitama is one of eight works in the Wahine toa series which celebrates the essential female element in Māori mythology. Hinetitama is dawn, the first true human. She was the daughter of Tane and Hine-ahu-one who bound earthly night to earthly day. She became Hine-nui-te-po, the Goddess of Death, after discovering that Tane was not only her husband, but also her father. She is shown here becoming fragmented as she changes from an earth-dweller into the Goddess of Death.

The interpretation of the women in this series can be seen as a feminist reading of traditional Māori mythology. Kahukiwa attempts to redress the conventional portrayal of women as less important than their male counterparts.

Hinetitama is an example of the bicultural style that is common in contemporary Māori art. Traditional subject matter is fused with a Europeanised style. While the figure is strongly representational as is typical in Western art, the symbolism which is an integral part of the work identifies it as Māori.


  • Tane is depicted as a stylised tiki superimposed upon the figure of Hinetitama and forming the bones of her arms.
  • The lizard represents Maui in the disguise he adopted when he tried to triumph over death.
  • The foetus represents the children of Tane and Hinetitama – the human race.
  • The spiral is an important element in traditional Māori carving. Here it represents the ten overworlds. The horizontal layers of colour represent the ten underworlds.