Brian Flintoff is an aclaimed New Zealand artist and carver whose pieces have been exhibited in several countries. Some are in Museums, and Public and Private Collections worldwide, including several pieces commissioned by the British Museum in London. He has also gained notable recognition by being made an Elected Artist Member of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts. His contribution to the arts was recognised by him being awarded a Queens Service Medal in 2010.
Brian’s attitude to carving is inspired by that of traditional artists, who strove for excellence in order to please the spirit world. Their understanding that harmony is the balance of Spiritual and Physical elements has enriched both his life and his carving.
Working with Te Haumanu, a group dedicated to the revival of Maori flute and instrument making and playing, has brought him status as the leading maker of traditional Maori musical instruments. Support and guidance from the Maori community has been the greatest influence and inspiration for his carving. Therefore he considers the most satisfying acknowledgement possible is that he is proud to have many pieces ‘at home’ on Marae throughout Aotearoa New Zealand. An absorbing interest in the similarities of the art of the West Coast Canadian Indian people and Maori art led him to research animal forms in Maori Art which are so prevalent in West Coast but not so obvious in Maori art. This remains a focus through which he can express both his passion for displaying both the relevance of the truisms told in mythology and his love of, and concern for, nature.
Once introduced to the intricate art of the Japanese Netsuke San and the mythology and stories told in those tiny exquisite pieces Brian has been enthusiastically creating pieces inspired by them but using motifs and stories from Maori traditions. He was proud to be invited to exhibit these with contemporary Japanese carvers in Tokyo. Among the oldest known Maori art works are the Rock paintings which also feature in his work and after visiting ancient cave paintings in France he has been excited by the links that ancient people had through their arts which can still link people in today’s world. Seeing a very ancient bone flute, just like the Maori ones he works with, in the museum at Les Eyzies and reading that similar ones have been found in other parts of the world, also reinforces our links through music. This inspires him share his work with the ‘old world’ and help rejoin ancient links. After Brian created the illustrations for a book on local Maori history, where he blended traditional painting styles in contemporary picture forms, he has been called on to create other graphic and sculptural works for books and display in local public venues.
Brian has written the book, TAONGA PUORO, SINGING TREASURES published by Craig Potton Publishing which introduces the musical instruments of the Maori and the mythology that explains their usages. It also has instructions on making and playing them and includes a sampler CD of music from TE KU TE WHE and TE HEKENGA A RANGI by Hirini Melbourne, Richard Nunns and Aroha Yates-Smith. This book has been followed by KURA KOIWI, BONE TREASURES where Brian tells of his journey into the Maori culture and its fascinating mythology through his bone carvings. He is also one of 24 National Artists featured in STONE, BONE AND JADE by Donn Salt and features in various ways in many books nationally and internationally.