Sculptor flies with kite idea

Riverton artist Chris Flavell with his Maori kite sculptures at the Dunedin Community Gallery....
Riverton artist Chris Flavell with his Maori kite sculptures at the Dunedin Community Gallery. Photo by Linda Robertson.

Maori artist Chris Flavell did not think his latest exhibition would take off.

The Riverton-based sculptor has put a contemporary spin on an old art form for a celebration of Maori artists at the Dunedin Community Gallery. Flavell (48) began experimenting with Maori kites after discovering an old image of the design in a book.

''Captain Cook took one back to England with him. It was made of flax and raupo and had a tattooed Maori face,'' he said.

''I started experimenting with the same shape, using the kite as a human form. I wanted to take an inanimate kite and transform it into a different creature.

''A bird-like structure evolved, although everyone seems to see something different in them. I try to make things that don't fit.''

The 4m sculptures are made of milled rimu, which has been recycled from bed bases.

''Everything I make has to fit in the back of my Subaru station wagon,'' Flavell explained.

The works feature in a Southern Maori Business Network exhibition showcasing work by more than a dozen Maori artists.

''It's about sharing Maori stories and culture and promoting Maori artists,'' co-curator Antony Deaker said.

The Puaka Matariki Art Exhibition is on at the Dunedin Community Gallery from 10am to 4pm until July 11.

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