Anthony Bray-Heta is a New Zealand bone carver and jeweller who for several years was apprenticed to renowned New Zealand Master Carver Alan Nopera. The majority of Anthony's creations are designed to be worn as a talisman – to magnify strength, personal power and flow.
His designs encapsulate Celtic weaves; the strength of mythical dragons; the majesty of migrating whales; and the potency of shamanic divination. Nature is his biggest inspiration and many of his works feature natural symbols, such as the Koru (spiral), New Zealand’s fern frond, which represents regrowth and new beginnings.
Anthony’s Maori heritage inspires him to be a storyteller and share proud tales of New Zealand’s abundant natural beauty and the spirit of Tangata Whenua (“the people of the land”). His travels around the world, absorbing images, ideas and styles from ancient cultures, have also helped shape his work.
“I spend days, and often weeks, contemplating a piece before I start on it, especially when I’m working with whale bone or mammoth ivory as it is so rare, like a diamond, and deserves patience, respect and deep thought,” says Anthony.
Traditionally, whalebone was sourced from the local Iwi (tribes) and beached whales are considered treasured gifts from the gods and oceans. The ocean has always been a dominant influence for the Maori people who have a great respect for the creatures of the sea.
Anthony currently works from a small studio in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, which affords him easy access to what he sees as the most significant part of his carving process; blessing the Taonga (treasure) with Kara Kia (prayer) in the ocean. Here, he cleanses the work of any negative energy and gives thanks to Mother Earth for her cherished gift.
“If you own a bone carving you’re not just in possession of a beautiful, hand-sculpted piece of art but you’re holding the physical result of a culmination of skill, craftsmanship and meditation; encapsulated in a rare and exotic material that still carries the very essence of the creature it once supported. Keeping the spirit of the animal alive — that’s the principle of bone carving.”
Discover more of Anthony’s work on his Website, Facebook and blog.
Discover more about the makers and crafts people at The Rocks Markets.