Theo Schoon Carved Gourd

Monday 21 August 2017

This intricately-carved gourd is attributed to Theo Schoon. Thought to have been crafted during the late 1960s, the gourd displays rhythmic patterning reminiscent of Micronesian tattoo designs.

Carved gourd attributed to Theo SchoonBorn in Indonesia in 1915 to Dutch parents, Schoon studied in Europe before immigrating to New Zealand in 1939. In 1946, he began a two year project with Canterbury Museum during which he produced copies of ancient Māori rock art drawings found in limestone shelters throughout South Canterbury and North Otago. Exercising a degree of creative licence that included retouching, he also applied oil paint to sheets of heavy cardboard and created more than 150 panels that captured previously unrecorded designs from areas such as Craigmore and Kaikoura. 

Schoon was deeply inspired by the imagery he encountered and the traditions of whakairo (carving). In 1961, under the tutelage of master carver Pine Taiapa, Schoon embarked on a passion that was to remain with him for the rest of his career – gourd cultivation and carving. His respect for indigenous designs and techniques was made evident when, in 1963, his gourds were the only works of art by a Pākehā (non-Māori) carver to be featured in an exhibition of Māori art held at the Tūrangawaewae Marae in the Waikato.

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