RSA carvings well on way to completion

Tuesday February 14, 2017 Written by Published in Local
Master carver Michael Tavioni next to one of the giant carvings of a WWI Cook Islands soldier. This one carries a shell, the other poupou’s soldier has a spade. 17021312 Master carver Michael Tavioni next to one of the giant carvings of a WWI Cook Islands soldier. This one carries a shell, the other poupou’s soldier has a spade. 17021312

Rainy weather has done its best to disrupt things, but nothing has deterred the small team of artists working on the massive carvings destined to be the RSA cemetery entrance.

 

And they are huge. 

Each of the two raintree (samanea saman) poupou, showing different carved figures of Cook Islands soldiers of WWI, weighs 1.5 tonnes to 2 tonnes.

On top of those giant posts will sit two arms that will join as an arch. They each weigh at least half a tonne, possible two-thirds of a tonne. Both were formed by splitting a big log in half lengthways so their mirrored form would add to the design.

Splitting the log was the idea of master carver Michael Tavioni, who yesterday said the artists’ jobs were basically done.

If the rain holds off a bit longer they will be able to seal the final arm within the next day or so.

Weather has been an issue ever since the project began with New Zealand artist Michel Tuffery in October.

There was plenty of heat. Too much at times for artists shaping wood and stone out in the elements, until shelters were erected to keep the direct sun off them.

Then there were the torrential downpours ... 

But those tribulations are in the past and Tavioni says the team can now look forward to seeing their creation in pride of place at the RSA cemetery.

“The project has taken about three months and a lot of long hours.

I could see the size of the project and knew the scheduled time was only about one third of what we needed.

But the work was inviting, challenging and hard to say ‘no’ to.

The bumps and little problems, no-one will remember. The artefact is what is important and people will be talking about it for a long time. The artists will be proud of having a hand in doing it.”

And is Tavioni pleased?

“I do love the project.”

Soon the folks who have not popped into the busy artists’ hub next to the Whale and Wildlife Centre in Atupa will get to see what supremely talented people can create from wood and stone.

Measurements have been made and soon the pieces will be transported from the work site to Panama, where the gateway will be erected. And then Rarotonga will have another icon of which to be proud.

           

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