Sean Crawford

Sean Crawford: ‘Karanga o te Tui’ (Calling of the Parson Bird).

The duality of Sean Crawford’s works can almost be seen as a struggle, or a dance, between the masculine and the feminine. The Carterton artist, originally a plumber, took a drastic career change after returning from a five-year OE, newly inspired to pursue a career in the arts.

The treatment of three-dimensional objects that his original trade taught him influences his artistic practice. After graduating with a Bachelor of Design in 2003, Crawford has been a full-time artist ever since. He continues to practice close to the settings he grew up in, drawing inspiration from childhood summer holidays spent in the Wairarapa hills and helping out on local farms.

These childhood memories are but one of the many influences on his works. Others range from the woodworking techniques he learned from his boat-building father, to the contradictions of New Zealand’s colonial past. Equally as varied are the materials which Crawford works with, from laser cut steel to taxidermy.

In 2013, Sean was a finalist for the signature award at the New Zealand Art Show in Wellington. His commissioned work ‘The Pioneer, Maui’s Bird and the Earthly Star’ can be seen at Auckland Airport and a commission in 2015, ‘Waiting for Hammond’ was placed overlooking the Irish Sea. This two-meter high huia bird near Cork, Ireland, shows that though Sean’s inspiration his home-grown, his art has international appeal.

His work ‘Karanga o te Tui’ (Calling of the Parson Bird), 2017, shown at Black Asterisk, considers the idea of ‘improving on nature’ which ran parallel with the colonisation of New Zealand, a mindset Crawford describes as 'old world thinking'. The title refers to the settler’s name for the Tui, a reference to clergymen who used the word of God as a powerful colonial tool.