Lyonel Grant was born in Rotorua and is of Ngāti Pikiao and Te Arawa decent.
He studied with John Taipa (master carver) in the 1970s at the Māori Arts and Crafts institute in Rotorua, subsequently becoming first assistant to the master.
In 1984 he began an independent career undertaking several major projects including commissions from the British Museum and the National Museum of Scotland, the completion of three meeting houses, and the Waitangi Sesquicentennial waka.
In 2007 Grant co-authored Ihenga: Te Haerenga Hou: the evolution of Māori carving in the 20th century with Damian Skinner. The text discusses Grant's second carved meeting house, Ihenga, at Waiariki Polytechnic.
In 2009 Grant received an Arts Foundation Laureate Award in recognition of past success and potential for future excellence. He was also recognised with an honorary Doctorate of Philosophy (Education) from Unitec Institute of Technology where Grant had just completed the whare nui, Ngākau Māhaki, at Te Noho Kotahitanga Marae on Unitec's Mt Albert Campus.
Grant draws on his 'dual lineage influences', exploring western sculptural materials and techniques and whakairo traditions while "advanc[ing] the visions of traditional practice by using his own unique methods."
- Associated Artworks