Brett a’Court has worked as an artist for the past two decades, expressing himself spiritually through his art practice. He is a disciplined practitioner regularly exhibiting throughout Aotearoa.
Brett’s work explores religious themes with images of Christendom, mysticism, and spiritual iconography. Over time Brett has developed a practice platform that explores the relationship between spiritual beliefs and the Tai Tokerau landscape that is his home. With this body of work he has researched further afield and based the series on the histories of the Prophets from the Ringatu and Ratana movements in the Taranaki region.
His awareness of Christian ethos, carved across may cultures, whether freely administered or by colonial imposition, plays out powerfully in the work.
Christianity had come to Māori before the musket wars. The old divinity ethos in Māori culture were somewhat amplified by the introduction of a Christian belief system. It is not unusual to find a strong semblance of worship in many pacific societies, with Christianity in cultural collaboration with Tikanga, and village culture.
Brett’s particular vision is enhanced by his quest to find meaning in the historical relevance of the vast cross section of Māori coming to the teachings of the Bible. There is, for Brett, a need to seek relevance in both the wairua/spirit of culture, landscape and the rendering of the Christian word though iconography. The prophets in Aotearoa hailed from the shadow of European Christianity, with a yearning for faith, survival and eventually passive resistance within the increasing climate of disunity, land transactions and humanitarian failures.
Brett’s work identifies with Colin Mc Cahon’s in reference to the prophetic personalities at ground level in Aotearoa. Over time he has developed an individual discussion through visual language, engaging with the higher order of human consciousness, albeit, Christian or otherwise. His use of the traditional woollen blanket as a canvas is relevant on many levels, not just a grounded substrate to paint on, but as an historical
platform to provide a metaphor on Colonialization, disease, infestation, inequity, technology, trade, but also warmth and comfort.
His quest for understanding stems from personal idealism and a thirst for knowledge. References to the Ratana and Ringatu faiths adds depth to the philosophical idea to seek out and nurture the spiritual parallels in life, to illustrate the truth, to find kinship from his pakeha perspective.
Brett a’Court has a holistic philosophy that communicates sincerity and passion in his powerful paintings. Whoever comes in contact with his work can’t help but sense the struggle, the chaos, and the final acceptance within each piece. The beauty of his renderings is personified in colour, imagery, and multilayered paint, to live with and enjoy the unsolvable both in art and life.
His personal convictions are expressed in his work, and communicate a complex blend of Christian iconography with his lifestyle as a contemporary rural New Zealander.