Shona Firman

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1940

Te Waka Taniwha

  • Purchased, 1994
  • Glass
  • 1230 x 230 x 225mm
  • 94/40
  • 1994

A ‘waka’ is the Mâori word for canoe and a ‘taniwha’ is a deep water monster. Traditionally the waka refers not only to the canoe, but also to the idea of migration. Shona Firman sees the waka as a vessel for keeping and transporting cultural beliefs and traditions. Firman has decorated the prow of the canoe with motifs associated with the spiral carving patterns of Mâori and Celtic art. She has used a cast glass technique involving moulds to create this work. Firman was born in Whangarei. In her 30s she spent time sailing in the South Pacific, then worked in Hawaii and Canada. In 1980 Firman established a small arts business in Whangarei. She began studying at the Northland Polytechnic and graduated with a Diploma in Applied Arts (with Merit) in 1992. The following year Firman won a scholarship to study at the prestigious Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle. Since then, Firman has tutored in glassmaking at both the Northland Polytechnic and the Unitec University of Technology, Auckland.