Carin Wilson is a studio furnituremaker, sculptor and design educator. He was a leader in the country’s craft movement in the 1970s, 80s and 90s and was one of the inaugurators of the design showcase Artiture in 1987. Other notable moments include solo exhibitions and origination and development of public and private projects with a cultural focus.
At the heart of his work is an exploration of new creative processes to evoke the makers understanding of their role in human progress.
2014 is a milestone moment celebrating 40 years of Carins practice as a craftsman - artist - designer in a distinguished catalogue of successful projects and collaborations.
Carin Wilson (b. 02 March 1945) is a studio, furniture maker, sculptor and design educator. He was a leader in the country’s craft movement in the 1970s, 80s and 90s and was one of the inaugurators of the design showcase Artiture in 1987.
The Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design conferred Wilson with an Honorary Diploma in Art and Design; in 2002 he received an inaugural Toi Iho mark, a registered Māori trademark of authenticity. His germane design practice, Studio Pasifika, has been in operation since 1993. Carin is represented by Artis Gallery in Auckland and Kura in Wellington.
Wilson’s ancestry embraces both of New Zealand’s founding cultures. His maternal grandparents Nino and Bruna Di Somma were an Italian watchmaker and jeweller and an Opera performer. His paternal grandfather, a Scot named Andrew Wilson, married Anahera Kingi.
Raised in Christchurch and Fiji, in 1982 Wilson moved - with his wife Jenney and young children Tulia and Seth - to Auckland after successfully applying to the Arts Council of New Zealand for a travel grant to visit art schools in the United States and Europe.
Here, he concentrated on involvement in projects that tapped into his Maori heritage and to be closer to his Maori roots in Whakatane.
The relocation brought him closer association with Auckland's design and art community, with segues to exhibition opportunities. Once his studio was established in Mount Eden, he continued to be a prolific and accomplished furniture maker.
A major commission was for the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council headquaters. Wilson was awarded the boardroom project. The brief for the table stated that it must be multi-purpose, accommodating both small and large meetings.
In addition to these precisely-crafted functional pieces, Wilson created alternative forms of furniture that explored narrative. The primary example in Wilson's Artiture oeuvre was Royal Pain in the Arse, a chair whose literal pointed humour made reference to the Crown.
In a response to the inventiveness of the Artiture events, the works of a number of the exhibitors in the 1992 exhibition were purchased and selected to tour through five cities in Japan.
From a primary affection for New Zealand native timbers and concern for their inappropriate commercial exploitation, he began exploring the approach to the use of traditional and contemporary materials in art school residencies.
Fruitful collaborations have followed and include the interiors for the Maori Television Service's studios in Newmarket Auckland, Te Puia in Rotorua, & Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi in Whakatane.
Wilson began work on his first solo exhibition of sculpture, He Rahi to Whakamau kotahi i te Pirita, in 1995. Solo exhibitions in 2003, 2005, and 2011 have continued to be inspired by his Maori heritage and personal philosophical and political views. His table of Puriri and cast Alubronze, Nga Taonga o Tanemahuta in "The Fourth Perspective" in 2001 retained the tunnels eaten by Puriri moths as symbolic of the beauty yet reality of nature. "I O E A U" at Artis Gallery in Auckland in 2003 reconfigured the marks of Maori signatories to the Treaty of Waitangi into three-dimensional forms in steel, wood, glass and stone. "Re-patterning" (2011) explored the relationships between the universe and the detrimental changes wrought by landscape, environment and culture.
Wilson's Pukeruru studio continues to pursue the principle of learning through creative exploration, offering short-term residencies and internships while encouraging a pragmatic approach to creative business practice.
Carin Wilson is represented by Artis Gallery.
References: The contents of this article are adapted from D Wood. "Futuring Craft: Studio Furniture in New Zealand 1979-2008."