Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

07/10/2014 - 07/10/2014

Lake Wanaka Centre, Wanaka

07/04/2017 - 07/04/2017

Festival of Colour 2017

Tempo Dance Festival 2014

Production Details

KIRI is a conversation between a dancer and a clay artist redefining our mutual knowledge of skin/clay, movement/form and relational concepts of geology/whakapapa, cultural/ contemporary, the sacred and mundane.

KIRI’s focus is on the integrity of clay in a pre-ceramic state and validity as a non-ceramic art form through dance, video and sculpture; to contest the notion of permanency in clay/ceramic practice.

The underlying narrative to the performance tells the story of clay from its geological formation and whakapapa through to contemporary overlaps between dance and clay. Clay is activated in contact with the dancer’s skin and in turn animates the dancer.

KIRI means ‘skin’ and the work explores clay as a living medium, and also acknowledges Hine-ahu-one (the first woman made from earth). With KIRI we relate the functioning and health of the body to that of the earth – an indigenous perspective of the body and it’s processes, and the idea that Hine-ahu-one may have been an active participant in her own creation.


Kiri is a performance/sculpture installation which is touring nationally during 2013-14 as part of the Uku Rere: Ngai Kaihanga Uku & Beyond exhibition of contemporary Maori sculpture (see below for schedule)

Video presentations of the live performance work Kiri are included in the touring exhibition.

Live performances are included at the decision of each venue – best to inquire at the venue for advance details..

Exhibition catalogue:

Exhibition schedule

From July – October 2013, UKU RERE exhibition was proudly presented by Pataka Art+Museum and now touring in partnership with Toi Māori, showing ceramics by the five principal members of Nga Kaihanga Uku.  This exhibition is currently touring throughout Aotearoa. 

Participating centres and dates are as follows:

Whangarei Art Museum | Te Manawa Toi (11 November – 26 January 2014)

The Suter Art Gallery | Te Aratoi o Whakatu (7 February – 22 April 2014) 

Waikato Museum | Te Whare Taonga o Waikato (16 May – 9 August 2014)

Tairawhiti Museum | Te Whare Taonga o te Tairawhiti (22 August – 9 November 2014)

Te Manawa Museum of Art, Science + History | Palmerston North


Friday 7 April, 7.00pm


Lake Wanaka Centre




Dancer: Louise Potiki Bryant
Clay artist: Paerau Corneal
Sound score: Paddy Free.

Solo , Multi-discipline , Dance , Contemporary dance ,

50 mins

Conceptually intriguing, culturally significant, highly engaging

Review by Kim Tomlin 08th Apr 2017

Kiri is a performance piece combining dance, sculpture and video by choreographer/ video artist Louise Potiki Bryant, clay artist Paerau Corneal, with sound designed by composer Paddy Free.

Arriving into the theatre we are drawn instantly onto the stage with the artists, where it seems we are not just spectators at a show, rather spectators arriving straight in to the studio of creation itself, where something spectacular is about to take form.

The Sculptor (Corneal) awaits the inspiration to mould clay in her studio.  The Clay (Potiki Bryant) lies camouflaged in a textured projection of light on the floor, awaiting the Sculptor’s inspiration.

Clay is the skin of the Earth.  

Kiri means skin, and this mesmerising performance brings to life the story of the creation of Hine-ahu-one, the Māori myth of the first woman created from Earth, and the transformative process of materialising into human form from the land.

The Sculptor places the clay on the potter’s wheel ready to be turned and created.  She starts to turn the wheel, and the human form starts to emerge.

At each turn of the wheel, Paerau adds and moulds more clay, eventually entirely covering Potiki Bryant and moulding her to female form. 

When this moulding of the form is complete, we are projected into the realm of transmutative process, with the experiences of this process delivered through Potiki Bryant’s engaging, kinetic and rhythmic choreography, as she takes form from the clay, allowing us to feel the emotions, motions and growing pains of becoming human.

Paddy Free’s outstandingly produced soundscore adds huge depth and dimension to the piece, allowing us to understand the transformative process more clearly with digital biorhythms, cracking, splitting, pulsing and murmuring. 

Straight from performing this show in The Netherlands, Potiki Bryant, Corneal and Paddy Free bring a conceptually intriguing, culturally significant and highly engaging piece to the Festival of Colour.


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Kiri opens Tempo Festival 2014

Review by Bernadette Rae 10th Oct 2014

A host of ancient spirits and totems embody story of Maoridom’s first woman, which opens Tempo festival

A stunning collaboration between Louise Potiki Bryant, dance artist, and Paerau Corneal, clay worker, on the subject of skin, the whakapapa of clay itself and the creation story of Maoridom’s first woman, Hine-ahu-one, opens Tempo 2014 in great style.

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A stunning artistic success

Review by Briar Wilson 09th Oct 2014

The presentation of Kiri is a tremendous success for Tuakana, the opening night of  Tempo Festival 2014  Unfortunately for those who weren’t there, are who missed out on tickets (all sold out) this entirely original master work has only one more scheduled viewing, at a gallery – in New Plymouth I think!.

Kiri (meaning skin) came out of a meeting between Bryant and clay sculptor, Paerau Corneal, followed by collaboration, and then with sound input from Paddy Free. The application of clay to skin is the covering within which Bryant dances, as if she were Hine Ahu One, the first woman in Maori myth, made out of red earth, but here not made by Tane Mahuta, but by a woman.

The audience enters to see Bryant’s figure (covered in white clay) lying in the centre of a white oval, speckled with grey, with a backdrop video of her figure covered in red clay, and Corneal seated in shadow to the rear.  Once people are seated, the lights drop, the video is curtained off, and to thunderous sounds and flickers of light across the oval, Bryant stirs.

She appears to be trying out her body and opens it up to the light, stretching long legs, insectlike.  Gradually she stands, wobbly at first, then stronger, always inside the oval – or egg?  The earth beneath her starts to crack and she collapses, wet, to the sound of rain.

Now Corneal moves into the oval to start the process of “wedging” – working the clay (i.e. Bryant) rolling her around and moving her about as if she had no bones.  Corneal places her onto a turning plinth, and with reddish brown clay, works to sculpt a woman.  Bryant, no longer passive, happily participates in this creation process and so moves more and more, as more and more clay is applied.  In the after show talk, Bryant speaks of “kiriwai”, that is, it is as if she is moving the water beneath her skin, and indeed the strength and fluidity of her body in this part is not only amazing to see, but also very beautiful.

When Corneal finally stands back to look at her work, Bryant moves with full freedom – cries may indicate birth, a change of colour – womanhood – all within the oval.  The back video returns of Bryant, in red clay, dancing, so that there are two dancing figures.  And then, with gentle waves breaking on the shore, Bryant happily dons a blue frock to bring the creation process to a finish.

A huge amount of thinking and work from all three, Bryant, Corneal and Free, must have gone into the making of this piece, from testing different types of clay on skin to producing videos and light patterns for the oval (Bryant) and sound (Free).

The combination of the story of Hine Ahu One together with the actual clay sculpture process has produced a stunning artistic success – made the more relevant by a reminder that Hine was the mother of Hine Nui Te Po the guardian of death.  It will be a tragedy if this major work is never seen again.  Hopefully it has been recorded?


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Beautifully focussed, poignant, resonant peformance

Review by Jennifer Shennan 15th Jun 2014

The performance of Kiri ( meaning “skin”) by dance-maker Louise Potiki Bryant and clay-worker Paerau Corneal, was a moving and highly unusual event within Uku Rere, an exhibition of Maori ceramics at Pataka Art + Museum, in Porirua in 2013. The memory of it continues to resonate months later.

Nga Kaihanga Uku a Maori is the national co-operative of leading Maori clay workers, formed some 25 years ago. Their presence within the New Zealand delegation at the Festival of Pacific Arts in Solomon Islands in 2012 was something very fine to witness, but minimal coverage of that Festival in the media here at home keeps the voice quiet. Never mind. That was the gathering at which Louise Potiki Bryant and Paerau Corneal met, and began then to exchange ideas for a shared performance piece.

The result we saw a year later at Pataka in a beautifully focussed, poignant and at times humorous work that could only have been made in and of Aotearoa. It is best seen in its entirety within the context of the exhibition. (An abridged version of Kiri was staged as part of Kowhiti in the Opera House in Wellington, some months later, but it’s a hard ask to replicate the mana and atmosphere of the original gallery work in a vast proscenium arch theatre, minus the exhibition.)

The Uku Rere exhibition is touring nationally: until 13 April at the Suter Art Gallery in Nelson; from 16 May at Waikato Museum; from 22 August at Tairawhiti Museum in Gisborne; from 17 November at Te Manawa in Palmerston North.  I dearly hope each Gallery will include performances of Kiri within their related events programme as it deserves a wide appreciation.

Moving graphics project onto the back wall and create a circle on the floor to mark the performance arena. Potiki Bryant is lying barely identifiable in the dappled light and mottled leaf patterns of the bush floor. She moves but very slowly. It is the earth, the clay, taking on its own life. After the elemental forces have shaped and separated out, and the clay has reached the vertical, Corneal (who has been seated on a chair in the shadows outside of the circle) enters the space with her bucket of wet and ready clay. She proceeds to plaster it all over the dancer, face included (nostrils too… keep breathing, Louise…) preparing and revealing and  sealing the shape and existence of a woman.

It is intriguing to watch Corneal’s masterly handling of clay. Her resulting movement, although all of it functional, becomes part of the dance.  It is the moment of alchemy, where the clay takes on created life, where we watch the birth of a human, Hine Ahu One.  It is the Maori version of Coppelia. From Potiki Bryant there’s a hint of wiri, a flash of pukana, a familiar ringa … and there you have it. A more telling performed presentation of the ihi and wehi of Maori woman in dance … no politics, no shouting, no agenda, no illusions … would be hard to find elsewhere.    

Ask your local Gallery/Museum if there is a performance of Kiri during their exhibition season, and, if not, to please arrange one. It would be worth travelling some distance to catch its performance.       


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