Born in Wairoa 1974 Todd is of Rongomaiwahine, Ngati Kahungunu descent.
Growing up in a small rural town a great deal of Todd's early years were spent hunting, fishing and camping with his dad and brother. These experiences would later become a huge influence in Todd's work. As a yongster he was always interested in art and was fascinated with the carvings and kowhaiwhai (rafter patterns) in the wharenui (meeting house). “I would spend hours doing pencils sketches and drawings and found that my passion for art grew as I got older".
In 1987 Todd attended Te Aute College in Central Hawkes Bay. There he excelled in art and his teacher Mark Dashper encouraged Todd to further his art studies. In 1992 he went on to do the Diploma of Art, Craft and Design Maori at Waiariki Polytechnic in Rotorua. Whilst there he learnt about many art forms including whakairo (wood carving). “Once I was introduced to whakairo I knew quickly that this was something I wanted to pursue”.
It was in Todd’s final year of study when he met Roi Toia who was then the carving tutor. After graduating in 1995 Roi invited Todd to work alongside him in his workshop. Over the 17 years of working together as full time artists they forged a career and now have work held in collections throughout the world aswell as being represented internationally through the Spirit Wrestler Gallery in Vancouver Canada.
Todd Couper artist/carver
In 2012 Todd and his family moved to Brisbane, Australia where he spent twelve months as ‘Artist in Residence’ at Southbank Institute of Technology. Now back home in New Zealand Todd continues to explore the art of whakairo to draw inspiration for creating new works. Such concepts are enriched by interweaving personal experiences with different aspects of Maori culture.
“If I had any words of advice for our artistic rangatahi (younger generation) it would be to draw and sketch more. Drawing is often the first important step in translating a concept or idea by bringing it into a physical dimension. It’s like the basic underlying language of art that transcends all nationalities and cultures. Therefore the more you practice and better you become, the more your art will visually speak.”
Excerpt from Manawa - Pacific Heartbeat, 2005.
“Acknowledging my culture by incorporating traditional styles and motifs along with contemporary concepts and influences, I see my work as a translation of thoughts, expressing my inner self through fine sculpture.”