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‘My mahi is in what I create’

Saturday June 06, 2020 Written by Published in Art
Brent Holley stands with his sculpted basalt rock at the Beachcomber gallery. 20060314 Brent Holley stands with his sculpted basalt rock at the Beachcomber gallery. 20060314

Brent Holley is sculpting rock with a purpose, to remember those who have passed on. Melina Etches pays a visit to his workshop.

The impressive bold sculpted basalt rock that welcomes visitors to the Beachcomber is a celebration of artisans.

The rock outside Bergman’s Gallery was sculpted by artist Brent Holley, an award-winning stone, steel and wood sculptor who has created works around the world.

His partner, Cook Islander Grace Henry, is also an accomplished artist and stone sculptor; her strikingly elegant touch stones are also on display.

The sea birds sculpted onto basalt rock. 20060315

Holley believes it is about getting the skills, the knowledge and history and making sure it is passed on to the next generation.

He explains the motif on the bottom of the wood base structure represent lifting – people holding hands, on the back are sea birds that represent vaka makers, weavers, carvers, fishermen …

“It’s about people lifting up our ta‘unga, through learning, sharing and collaborating.

“It’s about getting the whole succession thing going and making sure that we are passing this knowledge on.”

He notes that especially now, people are starting to grow again – that’s the same thing, that’s our knowledge, our master growers; that’s what this is a celebration of, and it’s about collaborating as well, about coming together and developing it.

“We need to understand where we come from, before we can move forward.”

Indigenous knowledge can’t be lost, in some cultures it’s been close; we identify with it, it’s something we need to cherish, he says.

Holley is self-taught and has sculpted for about nine years, using stone for five.

“The artwork I create is only ever part of a larger story, a story that iscompleted through the eyes of the viewer.”

He doesn’t have an actual favourite piece, “it depends, it’s about the creative and the effect it has on the person.”

Holley is now working on memorial and headstones; families no longer need to order from overseas, these can be made right here on the island.

A stone from your family land carries mana, and with a design of your choice, Holley can create something beautiful for your loved ones.

“The form is everything. I use local materials when possible and enhance their natural beauty within the form. This should be a journey, following the lines and shadow, discovering the essence and true form along the way.

“Everybody has their thing, sculpting is my thing, my mahi is in what I create …”

The sculpted pieces are on display and available for purchase at the Bergman and Sons Gallery at Taputapuatea.

On Facebook: @BrentHolleySculpture and @Grace-Henry-Art, phone 71756.