Sean Crawford is an internationally successful New Zealand sculptor known for his multi-layered approach to his art. One day he might be weaving stainless steel into contemporary forms, pursuing what he calls the new ‘Pacific Modern’, the next he might be exploring ideas about landscape and history in meticulous multimedia. He lives in rural Carterton, north-east of Wellington, where his studio looks onto the foothills of the Tararua mountain range. Art and the great outdoors were features of Crawford’s childhood. He could draw before he could walk, or so the family story goes. His first career was plumbing – a trade that taught him to think and create in three dimensions. After his apprenticeship he spent five years travelling overseas and returned home with a renewed passion for art and design. He graduated with a Bachelor of Design in 2003, and has been a full-time sculptor ever since.
Crawford uses a range of materials – from laser-cut steel to taxidermy. The sources of his inspiration are just as varied: the Wairarapa bush, the vibrant cultures of Central America, the woodworking techniques he learned from his boat builder father, the contradictions of New Zealand’s colonial past, the stories of Edgar Allen Poe and the paintings of Bill Hammond. One of the highlights of Crawford’s career to date was the 2015 commission ‘Waiting for Hammond’, a two-metre-tall huia bird sculpture set on a headland overlooking the Irish Sea. It’s a sign that his ideas, although largely home-grown, are globally relevant.