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Innovative artist recipient of Hawaiian residency

Innovative artist recipient of first Hawaiian carving residency

Sculptor/carver/designer Lyonel Grant (Ngàti Pikiao, Te Arawa) has been awarded the first Te Waka Toi Oahu Residency.

Te Waka Toi, the Mäori arts board of Creative New Zealand, is developing the residency with the Kamakakþokalani Centre for Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, Hawaii.

Te Waka Toi Chair Elizabeth Ellis said that Lyonel Grant has more than 30 years experience in his artform and has worked on several major projects in New Zealand and internationally. He is a licensed user of toi iho™, the trademark of authenticity and quality in Màori arts.

“The innovation and diversity he displays in his work is outstanding,” Ms Ellis said.

“His traditional work on waka and meeting houses is of an exceptional standard. He has also used his traditional knowledge to great success on more contemporary projects such as the award-winning garden at last year’s Chelsea Garden Show in London.

“Lyonel will be a great ambassador for New Zealand and Màori art during the time of his residency in Hawaii.

“The Oahu Residency aims to strengthen the cultural links between indigenous Hawaiian and Màori as well as providing a professional development opportunity for Màori carvers.

“When we meet indigenous Hawaiian, we find there are many things we have in common. It is particularly noticeable in our arts and culture. Initiatives like this residency will help strengthen those links to the benefit of arts development in both countries,” Ms Ellis said.

Mr Grant said previous overseas travels had helped him better understand the place of Màori in a world context. “We are unique but we are also part of a common energy. In this light, I am proud of my culture.

“I believe Màori have a lot in common with the tàngata whenua of Hawaii and there is much we can learn from each other. That is my key interest in this residency.”

Mr Grant’s current major project in New Zealand is leading the building of the marae at Auckland’s Unitec. While in Hawaii, he plans to use that as a focus for lectures he will give on Màori carving and will also work on a pou for the whare while he is there.

The residency will last for two months from September.


Lyonel Grant: background information

Lyonel Grant began his training as a carver in 1974 at the Màori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua, a school set up in 1966 to promote the arts of the marae and wharenui.

He is a carver with a number of high-profile works to his credit but is also recognised as a sculptor who has made the transition between classical and contemporary modes of art expression.

He is currently working on his third meeting house at Auckland’s Unitec. His other two meeting houses are Ihenga/Tangatarua at Waiariki Institute of Technology in Rotorua and Te Papa o te Aroha in Tokoroa.

His waka include Te Arawa, which was carved for the people of Te Arawa and resides on the shores of Rotorua. The waka was used in the commemoration of the 1990 Commonwealth Games in San Diego and Hono ki Aotearoa was carved in a short period of time when Grant was invited to visit the annual Hawaiian Canoe Festival.

Major commissions include:

- The bronze sculpture Wai Tu Kei located in the Government Gardens, Rotorua, presented to the people of Rotorua in conjunction with Millennium celebrations

- Te Ahurei o Waikato in Huntly - a celebration of one thousand years of occupation of the Tainui people on their land

- Pou Wairua in the Sky City Casino, Auckland.

He regularly exhibits in solo and group exhibitions. His work will be on display this week in San Francisco at the Màori Art Meets America promotion.

He is a licensed user of toi ihoTM, the registered trademark for authenticity and quality in Màori arts.

© Scoop Media

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