We’re back in Taumarunui for this Weekend Name Drop. Prepare to be amazed once again at the work being produced here. I know I was amazed when I first encountered this week’s featured creative. Meet James Cannon.

Name: James Cannon

Creative fields: Artist, Carver, Toi Whakairo

Location: Taumarunui, New Zealand

Best known for: Founder of Future Primitive NZ,  Te Maunga Kura Toi graduate, student of Te Kuiti Stewart and Hohepa PeniTaniwha and Dragon exhibition 2014,

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James Cannon with his carving, “The Voyager”

My connection: In 2014, after completing my novel, Te Kauhanga: A Tale of Space(s), I began thinking about a thematic follow-up around the theme of time(s). Coincidentally, the Taumarunui Art Group was hosting an exhibition with the same theme. I was astounded to discover James’ piece, The Voyager (pictured), at the exhibition and knew I needed to meet the artist to share some thoughts. I contacted James on Facebook and we met for a coffee at his home studio. The conversation was even more enriching than I’d hoped and we’ve kept in contact online. I’ve been amazed at the prolificity and quality of his work since. Just this past week, we met again to touch base about time, creativity, culture and many other topics and, once again, I came away enriched and inspired by this talented and ambitious artist.

Inspiration for this writer: I love ideas and seeing how even the grandest ones of our imagination can be found in and applied to our everyday lives. James has a big mind, ambitious in scope and reach, but he is also a devoted family man and has plans for even further work in our community. While his work is grounded in his education and training from master carvers (tohunga whakairo),  Te Kuiti Stewart and Hohepa Peni, he is also stretching beyond traditional methods and iconography. We also share an immigrant’s point-of-view of the cultural ideas we are encountering in New Zealand (James is originally from England), ones we are still discovering and delving deeper into, with curiosity and joy. He’s just great to talk to, for me, great to engage with someone like James who shares a similar interest and passion for connections between ideas, though expressing them in a different creative field (although he’s also great with words, as you can see by his sample blog post below!).

Why you should check him out and share with others: Taumarunui has amazing people and he is certainly one of these. His regular posts on Facebook will impress you , you just never know what he’s going to present to us next. If you are financially capable, I strongly encourage you to approach James about a commission or check out his pre-made work on TradeMe. His range is diverse with his application of creativity over many different medium, from wire, pencil lead, mobiles, and canvas, to painted gourds (hue), kowhaiwhai panels and tekoteko, but also, like The Voyager, pushing the boundaries of his own imagination to create true art with passion, something born from within his creative centre. In our conversations, James has explained his concept of “future primitive” to me, telling me that, while his work looks to the future, it is himself who is primitive in his endeavours to live minimalistically, in a simple, self-sustaining way, motivated primarily by his love for family and engagement in community. I appreciate, and I think you will appreciate, how this approach to life and art can produce such outstanding work. In his own words: “I plan to continue my fine-art quest through the notion of Whakairo -enhancing my knowledge, creativity and consciousness along the way.” Check him out.

Sample of work:

Tribute to Tāne

(Originally posted on futureprimitivenz.blogspot.co.nz)

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Tribute to Tane – James Cannon

“The central motivation of this piece is the hexagon and pentagon. The hexagon represents macrocosm, everything larger than ourselves, whilst the pentagon represents microcosm, the smaller scale down to the minute. 6 is the number of structure whilst 5 represents life.

I carefully duplicated the dimensions of the areas in-between the two shapes, and rotated them into position (shown in white) forming a crafty composition of the classic Māori ‘Wheku’ design in a most striking and simplified manner.

The ‘Wheku’ design not only displays a face but expresses the foundation of our reality ‘Te Ao Marama’ through mnemonics subtly presenting the great feats of Tāne-nui-a-rangi who brought light and knowledge into our realm.

I view Atua-Māori as inter-dimensional energies macrocosmically beyond, yet microcosmically integrated within us through our spiritual and astral bodies. This system shows how consciousness is within oneself yet simultaneously throughout the universe all at the same moment.”

Here’s James himself in front of his carving studio:

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Find out more: futureprimitivenzFacebook, Instagram, TradeMeSoundcloud

The Weekend Name Drop is a weekly feature on this blog, promoting people I have encountered who are doing creative things.

Antony Millen is a Canadian living and writing in New Zealand. He is the author of three novels: Redeeming Brother Murrihy, Te Kauhanga and The Chain.

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