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Sam Harrison’s Bathing Figure to Complete SCAPE Public Art’s Season 2016 Exhibition: Presence

Sam Harrison’s Bathing Figure, 2016 completes the list of eight artists and ten locations that make up Presence. Presence is made up of diverse and engaging artworks located in a range of spaces, selected by managing curator, Heather Galbraith for the SCAPE Public Art Season 2016. The completion of Antony Gormley’s STAY will launch the Season on Saturday, October 1.

Christchurch-based Sam Harrison is a leading proponent of contemporary figuration, well known for his observant, emotionally resonant sculptures and woodcuts. Harrison has made a new work for Presence, featuring a female figure whose spine arches across the form of a large river boulder, her arm shielding her eyes. The pose might refer to the feeling of warming your body after a swim in the river, or may be read as representing a more charged state of anguish or lament. Scenes of bathers populate much art history most notably in works by Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso. Bathing scenes allow for the scrutiny and depiction of the figure in a variety of poses. Whilst these historic painters’ enquiries had more to do with the architecture of the picture plane, Harrison shares a fascination with the form of the figure under tension. The artwork will be located within Market Square at the Arts Centre, off Worcester Boulevard.

Sam Harrison, Bathing Figure, 2016. Photo: the artist. Courtesy of Fox Jensen, Auckland and Jensen, Sydney.

The Presence public artwork exhibition may be viewed on the one hour free guided tours that depart from the Arts Centre every day during the six-week season. The SCAPE Public Art guided and self-guided walkways provide exploratory trails around the 2016 Presence artworks and existing legacy works in the city. The 30-60 minute loop walks are designed to weave from the Arts Centre around the central city and back to Rolleston Avenue, but can be picked up at any convenient location for walkers.   

Deborah McCormick, Director of SCAPE Public Art says that the presentation of work in so many new high profile places provides a wonderful opportunity for people to visit the city centre. “Presence is an exciting selection that places art at the heart of our city, sparking the imagination of visitors. Exploring public art is an important way for people to engage with their city in a positive way.”

Managing Curator, Heather Galbraith comments, “Presence is an exhibition exploring what it means to be ‘present’ and to discern a ‘presence’. Through selection and siting of works the exhibition seeks to explore social, cultural, personal and political implications of being ‘present’, and of being visible (or invisible). Presence includes a number of figurative art works, and sculptures employing an abstract formal language to investigate physical and emotional states of being. The project acknowledges Ngāi Tahu as tangata whenua, and the many waves of long-term and short-term citizens of Ōtautahi Christchurch. The thematic also connects with the emotional and visceral punch of the Antony Gormley sculptures in the Ōtākaro Avon River and the Arts Centre settings and other existing public artworks previously commissioned through SCAPE Public Art.”

SCAPE Public Art has moved from its biennial model to an annual, six-week season of Public Art from October 1 – November 12 2016 (incorporating school holidays and the New Zealand Cup and Show Week celebrations), launching new works and showcasing the extensive current catalogue of major public artworks.

Heather Galbraith’s role as Managing Curator extends over three annual seasons through to 2018. Presence, the 2016 Season, will exhibit works from an impressive mix of New Zealand artists curated and selected by Galbraith.

The move came after the success of the internationally acclaimed SCAPE 8 New Intimacies Biennial, the most high-profile of the series to date. The further establishment of Public Art Walkways through the Central City is now seen as essential for the critical mass of legacy works, which have evolved in recent years. The annual seasons will provide an opportunity to focus on the introduction of new works whilst maintaining focus on the impressive base of legacy pieces.

The 2016 Season profiles six key elements related to public art. These components include;

 - SCAPE Public Art Walkway

·Presence - Heather Galbraith’s curated exhibition of public artwork

·Re:ACTIVATE - Student & emerging artists’ exhibition

·SCAPE Education – Classroom programme and art making activities

·SCAPE Speaker Series - Artists talks, screenings and public programmes

·SCAPE Events - Including an opening weekend of youth, family and children-focused free event.


Updated on 30th September 2016