“I pull all that I can into my work. I am inspired by everything from swimming to listening to music to watching my two daughters painting. Life should be inspiring”. (1)
Israel Birch (Ngā Puhi, Ngāi Tawake, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Rakaipaaka) is considered one of New Zealand’s most talented young Māori artists. Working with steel and lacqueur, the mirror polish of his patterned works appears to absorb light and then refract it back from layers that sit just below the surface of the picture plane. The entire work becomes suffused with luminous colour and rich shadows, and ripples as the viewer or the light source shifts.
Birch’s works are the result of grinding and carving into steel and they seem to retain this tactility of their making. There is a sense that the movement and sound produced in their creation is embedded into the material of the work itself.
Birch holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts from Eastern Institute of Technology, Napier, and a Masters in Maori Visual Arts at Massey University. He has received several significant awards including the Norsewear Art Award 2006, 2005 and 2004, and the Te Karahipi o Te Waka Toi Award in 2005.
Birch is a lecturer at Massey University’s Te Pūtahi-a-Toi – the School of Māori Art, Knowledge and Education in the Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts programme, and is a full-time practicing artist. He has had solo and group exhibitions throughout New Zealand and in Australia, Canada and Europe
1. Artist statement, 2015.