Aaron Te Whanatango Kereopa (b.1971)
In 1985, the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior was bombed in Auckland's habour, sparking a new wave of anti-nuclear protest across New Zealand. Kereopa was living on his family land in Raglan at the time when he saw a 'foam blank' carved with fellow surfer Kevin Barker’s message “No Nukes in the Pacific”.
Inspired and wishing to express his ‘screaming silent voice’, Kereopa took up some old broken surf boards and began to experiment with the koru, or spiral form, initially using a kitchen knife and spoon to carve out the foam. He shortly realised that the same techniques applied to carving wood could be used with the foam if he used different tools, with a cutting rather than chiselling action.
Kereopa’s work utilises a visual language that acts as a code, drawing on themes both universal and personal such as mythology, geography, his tupuna (ancestors), whakapapa (genealogy), navigation, and also popular culture in the form of surf culture and comics.
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