Meet the Temple Leads, Karl and Tora

Nov 8, 2021

This year we have two wonderful humans in charge of creating the Temple: Karl Matthews as design lead, and Tora McKenzie as the build lead. While we are not giving away the design in any way, see what you can guess from what they shared with us:

Tell us a little about yourself:

Karl: I am a long-time Kiwiburner who has worked on several large-scale projects at Kiwiburn and other burns around the world. I have designed two other Temples before, Kiwiburn 2010 and Burning Seed 2019, and worked on the Temple of Transition at Burning Man 2011. 

Tora: I am a crafty Carpenter with a passion for freestyle building and using recycled materials. I have been involved with many festival builds and helped build the 3 faced art piece in the top Paddock last year. I work in the film industry and am building the second of many tiny houses to help free the younger generation from mortgages, I’ve traveled NZ and Australia with my tools building all sorts of crazy dwellings/structures and I’m a keen fossicker! In my down time I do silversmithing and carve stone.

What inspired you to take on this challenge?

Karl: I had the idea for this structure soon after we finished the Burning Seed Temple in 2019. When New Zealand went through its first lockdown, and I had a lot of time on my hands, I spent many hours designing what this Temple would look like. I submitted the design originally for Kiwiburn 2021 but withdrew it because of other life commitments. I submitted it again this year because it felt like the time was right.

Tora: I love to challenge myself. This year’s opportunity came up somewhat out of the blue but it has been my intention to step it up and get more involved with building and designing a Burn structure. 

Without giving anything away, how do you think the Temple connects to this year’s theme, Time Travel?

Karl: It was actually designed with last year’s theme in mind, but there is the element of travelling through the structure and emerging into a different space and time.

Tora: This year’s design is timeless, it could be from the past anywhere on earth or from the future anywhere in the universe.

What are you looking forward to the most with this experience?

Karl: Working with a crew of people to create something that over two thousand people will get to enjoy. I’m super excited to get out of Auckland and be able to hang out and have fun with an epic crew!

Tora: I’m most looking forward to working with an awesome/crazy group of people who are doing the hard mahi for the love of it. Creating art for the people and all the random goodness that comes from getting out there and doing cool things.

What do you think (at this early stage) might be your biggest challenge?

Karl: Organising everything during a lockdown. Both Tora and I are Auckland based, so there is a lot of uncertainty around what is going to happen. There might also be issues around rising costs of building materials, shipping, and other supply chain issues. 

Tora: Long days with awesome crazy people can be tough sometimes and being mindful of burnout is a big consideration.  In saying that, if we get there and have the materials sorted I think the hardest part is done and the build should be a piece of cake compared with a lockdown in Auckland.

And finally, what does creating the Temple mean to you? 

Karl: Creating a space that is so meaningful for people is a huge honour, and I appreciate having the opportunity to do it again. It’s amazing to know that so many individuals will have a unique experience with the structure which will be so personal to them. Hopefully everyone gets what they need from this Temple, whatever that is.

Tora: Building the Temple is special for me, some of the main memories I have of any Burn are the thoughts and intentions created and released in the Temple each year.

Image Credit: Tora, hanging out, on the left; Karl’s Temple of Spirals, at Burning Seed 2019

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