Kawakawa Stone is a New Zealand umbrella company created by Nick Spicer Balme and Madelyne Gourdin to combine their creative process in one location. They carve New Zealand Pounmau (Jade) into forms from the depths of their minds and imaginations.
Nick Spicer Balme: Growing up in New Zealand, Nick was drawn to carving as a counterbalance to life in the modern world. He fell in love with the process as it makes him feel a stronger connection to his homeland, Aotearoa.
First carving materials such as bone, antler and wood by hand, Nick would spend a lot of time in nature contemplating the forms and their future possibilities, slowly moving the material by hand with sharp tools.
Moving then to Greymouth, the Heart of the Pounmau (Jade) country, Nick attended Tai Poutani Polytechnic to learn how to carve stone. Graduating with a Diploma in Hard-stone Carving and Passing with Merit, he also received the Mountain Jade Excellence Award. In 2016 Nick received a Silver Medal in the Contemporary Category and was awarded the Emerging Artist Award for New Upcoming Artist.
Heavily influenced by the natural environment, plants and landscapes, carving was a way to connect with nature allowing him to channel and create his own representations, through a contemporary organic style with influence from native Maori art.
Madelyne Gourdin: Mady was born in France, she studied art history and archeology at university which enhanced her love for the rich history of the art world. She later transfused this to learn the manual work of stone carving and restoration, to be in coherence with her first passion, history and archeology. She spent the next 5 years working as an apprentice, working on monuments and restoring sculptures and architecture, mostly in Paris. She immersed herself in the constancy of the art culture, which influenced her own art, making it grow. This process gave her the opportunity to win the French contest, 'Award Future Artistic Careers' from the 'National Institute of the Arts Careers' in 2012. She passed the Diploma with distinction as a 'Stone Masson Specialised Sculptor, and Restorator of Historical Monuments'.
In November 2015, Mady travelled to New Zealand, to discover a new culture, new arts and influence. Since then she was invited to participate in three local sculpture symposiums in Westport, Hokitika and Greymouth. She brings European style to New Zealand stone, creating a fusion of the two worlds. In August 2016, she found a love for jade carving, and since then has never stopped.