Gill Gatfield, Brett Graham and David McCracken are the next artists to be announced as part of Presence: the curated exhibition element of the SCAPE Public Art Season 2016. Located on the Christ’s College Quadrangle, the works respond to the broad theme of Presence and is a landmark inaugural public presentation, by leading contemporary New Zealand artists, at this location. The exhibition will be accessible to the public from Rolleston Avenue throughout the season.
With further artist announcement still to come, Presence is made up of diverse and engaging art works located in a range of spaces, selected by managing curator, Heather Galbraith. The Christ’s College ‘Quad’, the heart of the school, forms part of the exhibition’s Public Art Walkway.
Christ's College Executive Principal Garth Wynne says being able to support SCAPE Public Art by hosting the 2016 season is a great direction for the school. "We are thrilled to be a host site for SCAPE Public Art. We look forward to welcoming everyone to Christ's College to view these stunning sculptures and to being a part of the Christchurch celebration of the creative spirit."
The works on the school’s Quadrangle will be the last stop on the free, daily guided tours that depart the Arts Centre each day during the season. The SCAPE Public Art Walkways provide exploratory trails around the artwork of Presence and other legacy works in the city weaving from the Arts Centre to the heart of Rolleston Avenue. Finishing in such close proximity to the Botanic Gardens and Canterbury Museum offers many accessible options to spend time in the heart of the city.
Deborah McCormick, Director of SCAPE Public Art says that the presentation of work in the Christ’s College provided a wonderful new location to exhibit. “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 young people to engage with their city in a positive way which makes a school setting very fitting.”
The artists and exhibits on the Christ’s College Quadrangle are:
Gill Gatfield The Kiss, 2015
The X form has many cultural and symbolic references - the female chromosome, heraldic forms, a kiss in a text message, and of course it ‘marks the spot’ in mapping. In this work by Whangaparaoa-based Gatfield, the X form is rendered monumental in gleaming black granite. Its construction enacts the union of a kiss, the weighty granite panels interlock, separated by a sliver of air. This abstract figure enfolds viewers and landscape in its intersecting planes and reflective surfaces. The Kiss was first presented in Denmark at the centenary of women’s right to vote, asserting a partnership of equals.
Gill Gatfield, The Kiss, 2015, absoluto nero/black granite, 2000mm high x 3000mm diameter. Photo courtesy of artist.
Brett Graham Plot, 2008
Plot invites us to consider how we conceive of and value land. Waikato-based artist Graham (Ngāti Korokī Kahukura) was interested in how the South Island had been divided up and then 'purchased' from Ngāi Tahu by the settler government to be sold by plot, divested of its spiritual and ancestral value. The topographic rendering of Te Waipounamu (the South Island) is hand-carved in marble, and sits on what is essentially a sarcophagus, suggesting that the land endures a death when seen only as a commodity.
Brett Graham, Plot, 2008, hand-carved marble, 975 x 2100 x 1000 mm. Photo: Jennifer French. Courtesy of Two Rooms Gallery, Auckland.
David McCracken Portrait of Mass Ascending, 2014
Aucklands-based David McCracken contributes a suite of works for the Season; the first is Portrait of Mass Ascending in Christ’s College Quadrangle. The work reflects the artist’s keenness to interrogate and transform pedestrian materials and objects into commanding and curious sculptural forms. Portrait of Mass Ascending pushes the form of a vertical column, which has a long history in the language of sculpture, and public sculpture in particular. This one appears to be reaching upwards, with fissures emerging as its mass stretches, as if it were composed of soft clay. This is illusory, as the sculpture is made from very hefty and rigid materials, welded corten and stainless steel. The ‘portrait’ in the title strengthens the reference to a standing human form, although the appearance of the work is abstract. McCracken is a highly skilled maker, intrigued by exploring the distinct properties of metals, and properties of geometry and scale.
Left: David McCracken, Portrait of Mass Ascending, 2014. Photo courtesy of Gow Langsford Gallery.
Managing Curator, Heather Galbraith commented, “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 art works 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 events
Updated on 30th September 2016