Von Magpie
Von Magpie

Von Magpie

Sean Crawford

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Highly successful sculptor  Sean Crawford is Wairarapa based. He works with a range of materials including laser-cut steel and taxidermy.

Crawford began as a plumber’s apprentice. Later, after travelling and living overseas, he studied for a degree in design. Crawford exhibits widely in New Zealand.

One of the highlights of his career has been creating the work ‘The Cloak of Remembrance’ made of laser cut steel and powder coated with red poppies for the New Zealand embassy, in Washington DC.

Von Magpie and the Forest Strangers

Von Magpie and his ‘Forest Strangers’ play on the idea that introduced species, like the magpie and the rabbit, were originally foreigners to the New Zealand colonial landscape. These works also relate to that same period of the 1860s, and tie together two very important parts, of what I call ‘colonial thinking’.

The first being that the Acclimatization Societies were still actively releasing rabbits into the New Zealand wilderness as late as 1866, just years before the rabbit plague peaked. Their call was one of ‘improving on nature’ and as such, they had introduced many species to fit the needs of the settlers. And by definition settlers need more than familiar flora and fauna - they also need land, fertile land!

Thus, the second link to ‘colonial thinking’ is how the expansion of New Zealand as a British colony lead to conflict and to - what is now referred to as - the ‘New Zealand Wars’. This period saw the transition from using British Imperial troops, to the establishment of local troops, in an effort to meet this need. As with Von Tempsky’s Forest Rangers, these new units operated with a less conventional approach - this time taking the fight to their adversaries amongst the native bush. 

Ironically, it seems that the more dominion we seek over the natural world, the more we seem to want to control it - for better or for worse. Both narratives, that of an introduced species running rampant on the land, as well as mans need to harness more of the natural world for his own gain - have been woven together in the creation of the Forest Strangers. 

Dimensions:  330mm H x 170mm W x 200mm D


Artwork Details

Title: Von Magpie
Artist: Sean Crawford
Date: 2023
Medium: Magpie head with laser cut steel components
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