Stone carver shows how it’s done

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Oamaru carver Silivenusi Funaki has been given the opportunity to show the people of North Otago his skills as part of a trial programme at the Forrester Gallery.
He was the first artist to be invited to be an artist in residence at the gallery, where last week he spent three days working on his Oamaru stone carvings and pounamu-binding techniques.
Mr Funaki sources his pounamu from Hokitika and carves notches into the stone, symbolising a stingray tail.
He then binds string to the stone _ a self-taught process _ so it can be worn around the neck.
Mr Funaki, originally from Tonga, has lived in New Zealand for 15 years with his wife and two children.
As well as working with stone and pounamu, he also works with wood and bone.
He said he was proud of being able to share his work at the gallery.
“It’s very exciting. I’m doing my work so people can see how it’s done, from the start to the finish.”His work, particularly in Oamaru stone, will be familiar to those who visited the Oamaru Stone Symposium in October.
Mr Funaki carved a large intricate whale, which has taken pride of place at Fleur’s Place in Moeraki.
Forrester Gallery director Jane Macknight said the idea for an artist-in-residence programme came from feedback from the public.
“We had a gap in our programme … it was our education co-ordinator, Liz King, who came up with the idea to have it for three days.
“It’s good for us because it increases our diversity with the community, which is very important to us _ trying to work with all groups in the community.”She hoped the programme would continue.
“This is a test. “We’ll see how it goes and what feedback we get and hopefully go with it again at another time.”om19silivenusifunaki