Born in 1965 and of Pakeha and Nga Puhi (Ngati Manu, Te Mahurehure) descent, award-winning ceramic artist Todd Douglas lives at Muriwai Beach, on the west coast near Auckland.
Primarily self-taught, Todd’s work is recognised for utilising a broad range of ceramic techniques and surface treatments as well as combining materials such as clay, wood, lashing and LED lighting.
Todd’s signature work, his contemporary Maori sculpture, often combines carved burnished clay with contrasting technical glazes, black lashing and wood. This work is recognised for its beautiful crystalline glazes, referencing pounamu. The theme that runs through this work is the reference to tools, and includes hoe (paddles), pa kahawai (spinners), tiheru (canoe bailers), and toki (adzes).
“My work stems from a love of uku. When I work with it, everything about it, from its tactile nature to its transformation in the kiln, grounds me. Each stage of the making is a transformation that you nurture and guide.
You can’t force uku. You have to allow it to change and become, and through that process, you come to learn and understand more about yourself.”
Just as I transform the clay, it transforms me.
As a proud member of Nga Kaihanga Uku (Maori Clay Artists Collective), Todd has participated in a number of international indigenous artist hui and exchanges.
Most recently, in 2018 and 2015 Todd travelled with Nga Kaihanga Uku to Astoria, Oregon, where they were hosted by the Clatsop and Chinook people of the Pacific Northwest.
Todd’s work pushes the boundaries for what is expected of ceramic art, which is reflected in his list of awards. To date Todd has won 6 national art awards, been selected 3 times for the Portage Ceramics Awards, and is profiled in Denis Robinson’s book ‘New Zealand Gallery’.
More recently, he collaborated with his wife and studio partner Karuna to develop large-scale ceramic sculptures for outdoor spaces. Their first works, Alien Intruders, sculptures of twining and twisting steel vines, topped with otherworldly, triffid-like multi-piece ceramic flowers were selected for the prestigious biennial Sculpture in the Gardens at the Auckland Botanic Gardens (Nov 2013 – Feb 2014).
Alien Intruders was purchased by Sir James Wallace, and is now on permanent public display at Pah Homestead in Auckland where the Wallace Arts Trust collection is held
Todd’s work can be found in key private, iwi/tribal, corporate, and government collections throughout the world. In particular, New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, Sweden, China and the United States.
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