Ani O'Neill

Fresh Eke (Eke Nui and Babies)

Fresh Eke (Eke Nui and Babies) by Ani O'Neill

Artwork Detail

This work was first seen in Liquid Sea at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art, then at Sue Crockford's gallery in Auckland and finally at Waikato Museum of Art and History with the magnificent embellishment of over 101 baby eke (common reef octopus). Ani O'Neill is primarily an installation artist and object maker whose sculptural work reveals her practical familiarity with both the traditions of Cook Islands weaving and the history of knitting techniques introduced to Rarotonga by the London Missionary Society during the early 19th century. In her work these traditions become interlaced and suggest a new craft form. By using them, Ani's work gathers together memories which surround traditional women's craft activities and makes them into a vehicle for her contemporary art practice.

Weaving and carving are two skills for which Cook Islanders have become famous. Historically they included a bravura mixture of innovative weaving technique with the construction of complex pattern that frequently employ designs with a deep cultural significance. For the Cook Islander, pattern and colour were inseparable and it is this feature which O'Neill's Eke so brilliantly conveys.This sculpture, with its family of baby eke, encapsulates Pacific weaving traditions while updating it with a colour palette, which reveals the festive rainbow of wool so cherished by weavers in the contemporary Cook Islands.

Eke has always been one of the staple foods of the Cook Islands.The place of the octopus in Polynesian mythology, is as creator of rocks, and the rock of all rocks, the land itself.

Fresh Eke (Eke Nui and Babies)
Ani O'Neill
Production date
crocheted wool
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of the Patrons of the Auckland Art Gallery, 2009
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
On display

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