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First Public Art Commission by Judy Millar for Christchurch’s SCAPE 8 New Intimacies

Call Me Snake, the first Christchurch public art commision by Judy Millar, will be located at the Armagh Street end opposite the New Regent Street Precinct as part of SCAPE 8 New Intimacies. Currently under construction the artwork will provide a high impact, impressive and beautful starting point to the SCAPE 8 Public Art Walkway. Millar, one of New Zealand’s foremost painters, represented New Zealand at the 2009 Venice Biennale and her work has garnered critical acclaim both locally and internationally.

Judy Millar, Call me Snake, 2015 (concept image). Courtesy of the artist and Gow Langsford Gallery.

The central theme of her work is the relation between the illusory and the physical, between our private inner world and our material existence, and the way the activity of painting can synthesise these contradictory ways of being.  Millar is best known for her large-scale digitally printed and painted canvases which loop and undulate through architectural spaces, exploring ideas of scale, and the compression of time and space. Call me Snake, pushes these ideas beyond the enclosed architectural spaces she has previously worked with, into the Central Christchurch landscape.

The work, which will be in place for 2 to 3 years, is comprised of vibrant graphics of Millar’s looped paintings adhered to five intersecting flat planes and draws inspiration from the forms found in pop-up books. The colourful piece will add a dramatic and rhythmic counterpoint to the city’s current urban landscape; a mix of flattened sites, construction zones and defiant buildings that have stood through the quakes. The work employs theatricality, playfulness and visual trickery, whereby the viewer is unsure about the work’s flatness or three-dimensionality; and it has been designed to offer a different perspective from each angle. The bright colours interrupt the grey of the work’s surrounds, and as buildings pop up around it, Call me Snake offers an optimistic provocation – ‘imagine what could be here’.

“I’ve approached this opportunity with as much openness and generosity as I could muster. I wanted to come up with a work that would awaken the imagination and speak of possibilities. Something gleeful that could energise a pretty desolate area of the city. But something that nevertheless held pathos. Something that recognised the city’s tragedy but helped things move forward” says Judy Millar.

Ōtākaro Plant Parade is a new community participation art project by Fiona Jack which has been developed for SCAPE 8 New Intimacies.  Over the past year Fiona has spent time in Christchurch talking with people and learning about ecological stories and histories of the Garden City. Along with some local collaborators, Fiona has handmade a number of banners that celebrate and respond to these gathered narratives, which will be processioned through the city during the opening weekend of SCAPE 8.  Individuals, families, members of societies and lovers of plants are invited to join the parade, to bring along their own banners, dress up, or take their pot plants for a walk.  Following the parade, documentation of the work will be displayed at the Ibis Hotel, Christchurch, for the duration of SCAPE 8.

The Auckland artist’s project has woven a web of connections across the flora and social groups of Christchurch’s history. Over the past year Fiona has spent time in Christchurch talking with locals and learning about ecological stories and histories of the Garden City. Her work celebrates and responds to these gathered narratives;from the historic trees planted by Samuel Barker along Oxford Terrace, to the daffodils which appear every year through the efforts of the Christchurch Beautifying Association; from the Cabbage trees at Burnside High School to the self-seeding weeds that occupied the city’s vacant lots.

Both Millar and Jack have paved the way for locals to particpate in SCAPE 8 New Intimacies. Fiona Jack’s project contributes a social dimension to the SCAPE 8 programme, influenced by her on-the-ground research with local communities, associations and histories. Locals have been encouraged to bring their own banners, dress-up and even bring their own pot-plants to the parade which will start from the corner of Kilmore & Madras Streets on Sunday October 4 at 11am.  Millar has generously donated a template to recreate one of her undulating loops for children to make as the particpate in the many activities taking place in and around SCAPE 8 Art Central on opening weekend 3-4 October and throughout the 6 week programme.

SCAPE Public Art has now announced seven biennial artist projects and sites for SCAPE 8 New Intimacies curated by Rob Garrett. The projects by Antony Gormley, Pauline Rhodes, Hannah Kidd, Nathan Pohio, Fiona Jack, Peter Atkins and Judy Millar will be accompanied by public participation project #ThatTimeYouHelped Our Portraits of People Reaching Out to One Another.

The SCAPE 8 Public Art Christchurch Biennial is a contemporary art event, which mixes new artworks with existing legacy pieces, an education programme, and a public programme of events. The SCAPE 8 artworks will be located around central Christchurch and linked via a Public Art Walkway, alongside a programme of artist talks, guided tours and public workshops. All aspects of SCAPE 8 are free-to-view and will be available to visit over a period of six weeks between 3 October and 15 November 2015.  

Rob Garrett is a New Zealand-born curator based in Poland, with more than 35 years in the art sector, including curatorial experience in New Zealand, Italy, Sweden, France, Turkey, Germany and India. Most recently he curated the 2013 Narracje public art festival in Gdańsk, Poland.

More detailed information about the SCAPE 8 Public Art Christchurch Biennial and artists is available on the website www.scapepublicart.org.nz/scape-8

 


Updated on 23rd September 2015