Dianne Caton

I cannot leave a piece of clay plain. I have the uncontrollable urge to carve or change the shape in some way. Hei matau, the bone or greenstone carving in the shape of a highly stylized fishhook and koru or fern frond are perhaps Maori culture’s most recognizable icons. Instantly identifiable by their bold yet sinuous and curvaceous nature, Maori art forms are never simply decorative, speaking also of family ties, land, character traits and genealogy.

A New Zealander living and working in the US for over 30 years, my work has constant echoes to the culture I grew up in – where every line is a curve and practically every cut into wet clay alludes to traditional Maori forms or designs. Drawing upon and reinterpreting these characteristic motifs maintains my connection not only stylistically but also personally to New Zealand and its unique visual heritage, for in Maori culture nothing is ever separate, but always linked to the past even as it faces the future.