‘Multiplicity’ is the word one would use to describe up the art of Sean Crawford. From his choice of materials, to subject matter, to physical qualities, and inspiration Crawford’s works are never one dimensional.
Now based in Carterton, Wairarapa, Crawford started his artmaking practice after working as a plumber. His trade taught him the skills involved in treating three-dimensional objects and working with untraditional materials. After graduating with a Bachelor of Design in 2003, Crawford pursued art full time.
As a sculptor Crawford uses intriguing combinations of materials, such as laser-cut steel and taxidermy, often to enable reactions and also entertain political discussion. His works have critiqued the effect of introduced species into New Zealand - the ethos of ‘improving on nature’ ran parallel with the colonisation of this country, and to what he calls ‘Old World thinking’. The combination of imagery - of a rifle made from silhouettes of Tui, or a deer built from steel Piwakawaka, or a police issue taser made from laser cut buttercups – offer a new confrontation of often overlooked issues.
Crawford's latest work Dominion, portraying a life-sized deer, investigates the unbalanced relationship between us and the natural world. Within this system are aspects that place humanity as master over the natural, this idea of domination is played out with the fetishisation of the piece. It gives a tone of perversion over what is a natural state in the world. Crawford uses the Piwakawaka as a symbol of the natural state, while the doe comes to embody the concept of shift in the natural order. It was this willlingness to turn the alien into what was known, what was comfortable, that Crawford wishes to comment on.
One of the highlights of Crawford’s career to date was the 2015 commissioned sculpture ‘Waiting for Hammond’, a two-metre tall Huia bird set on a headland overlooking the Irish Sea. It’s a sign that his ideas, although largely home-grown, are just as relevant on the world stage.
‘It is not the object that defines us- it merely implicates us.’- Sean Crawford.