Tim Wigmore's Precious Cargo project stems from his research into the historical uses and physical characteristics of our native trees and plants and his exploration of Māori myth and legend.  He says "I conceived of the Precious Cargo project as a way to celebrate our fauna which is so much a part of our cultural identity".


As an artist and furniture designer, Tim Wigmore was drawn to the waka huia form.  "I see it as a uniquely New Zealand perspective on the idea of jewellery or treasure or even tool boxes. They both conceal and reveal—an idea which is also inherent in furniture design. At first, I was focused on making interesting boxes but the more I become invested in the project the more I knew I needed to have something interesting and relevant inside them, something precious."


For Precious Cargo Tim approached six renowned makers and asked them identify a tool emblematic of their practice. "I wanted to collaborate with other artists and find out which tools were precious to them, which tool was worthy of its own special case." The Precious Cargo collaborators are; carver Lyonel Grant, weaver Veranoa Hetet, wood turner Graeme Priddle, potter Chris Weaver, musician & carver Brian Flintoff and jeweller Nga Waiata.


Wigmore then designed and made a cabinet for each of these six tools, predominantly constructed from the same plant material as the tool. Each cabinet, in its design and finish, explores unique aspects of the history, properties and stories of its particular material. "I intend for audiences to make connections between the works and the concepts that have generated them. In some cases, the links will be obvious, in others the links are more esoteric allowing for contemplation and some elements of mystery".


For over a decade, Wigmore's practice as a designer has demonstrated  a consistent interest in exploring the properties of new and known materials in order to create objects, that in their design, make evident those properties. Precious Cargo demonstrates how the acquired and inherited material knowledge and expertise of leading makers, gathered from their disparate making traditions, transcends those differences.  And how that expertise can be harmonised in the creation of new works that share the inheritance of multiple making traditions. 


Tim Wigmore acknowledges the assistance of Creative New Zealand with Precious Cargo




A publication for this exhibition is available to view or download here.

Tim Wigmore, Pohutukawa and Rope Cabinet, 2012.

Tim Wigmore, Flax Stalk and Steel Cabinet, 2012.