Christchurch’s SCAPE Public Art 2018: Our Braided Future

It’s the 20th anniversary of SCAPE Public Art in Christchurch, and the 2018 Season entitled Our Braided Future takes on twin metaphors; the braided rivers in Canterbury and the woven tapestry of shared understanding. Prepare to be surprised and inspired by the stellar lineup of art works that include sculpture, photography, live performance, and even a dazzling 3D laser light spectacular that kick-starts this monumental season of public art on October 5.

Hero image: ‘Mixed Feelings’, 2012 – Tony Cragg

Widely regarded as one of the most renowned artists of his time, British-born, German-based sculptor Tony Cragg brings his highly-celebrated bronze sculpture from Europe to Ōtautahi (at Christ’s College). By fusing figuration and abstraction, Cragg has created two dynamic intertwining forms that will leave you with anything but mixed feelings.


‘Three Squares Gyratory Variation 2’, 1971 – George Rickey

The late and great American sculptor George Rickey explored his fascination with kinetic energy through his large-scale sculptural works that have enjoyed a global resonance. Honouring the region’s strong affinity with kinetic sculpture, this particular work at the Arts Centre – with its simple geometric forms – has been finely engineered to oscillate in the balmy spring breeze.


‘Mauri Moana: Ko Au Te Moana Ko Te Moana Ko Au/I Am The Ocean And The Ocean Is Me’, 2018 – Piri Cowie

Homegrown artist Piri Cowie has drawn inspiration from the depths of the deep blue for her latest sculptural masterpiece. The UC Fine Arts alumna calls on her contemporary Māori cultural fashion experience to inform her handmade garments and taonga showcased within a special event that integrates her photographic portraits with live performance, waiata and the sharing of kai in North Hagley Park.


‘Tunnel’, 2018 & ‘Orion’, 2018 – Hannah Beehre

For a fully immersive starry night sky experience, Hannah Beehre has created a dazzling sculptural installation that replicates a jaw-dropping nebula that’s quite literally out of this world. Tunnel forms a spectacular entrance to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Canterbury Museum, and Beehre’s second work Orion can be marvelled at in the museum’s foyer.


‘Monument To The Present’, 2018 – Tom Dale

Informed by his visit to the Garden City in 2017, UK-based artist Tom Dale’s Monument to the Present (corner of Durham Street North & Chester Street East) speaks to the various voices vying to be heard that often represent conflicting ideas and imperatives. And, joining A Cage of Voices, the latest of Dale’s two video works featured this season, The Red Zone (at CoCA) explores the changing external environmental states and the turbulence of our interior landscapes.


‘Verdant Geometry’, 2018 – Erica Van Zon

The majestic neoclassical conservatory, Cuningham House within the Botantic Gardens will house Verdant Geometry, a suite of metal, glass and mirrored-perspex sculptures imagined by Erica van Zon. This piece sparks a dialogue on how various architectural tropes and styles morph over time by using the architectural qualities of the space as a reference point and fuses these with iconic stylistic elements from 80s interior design and architecture.


‘Fitu (Seven)’, 2018 & ‘Lelia’, 2018 – Christopher Ulutupu

Samoan-born, Wellington-based videographer/performance artist Christopher Ulutupu seeks to re-contextualise the stereotypes of Pacific Islanders found in early 1900s landscape photography and ‘postcard’ tourism, and re-imagines them through his installation pieces. His latest creation Fitu (Seven) comprises a series of seven photographic stills shot alongside the making of a new single channel video work, Hagley Park Billboards, 2018. Meanwhile, Lelia takes inspiration from a 70s Vogue winter fashion shoot that explores the artist’s evolving relationship with ‘My Coloniser’ (at The Physics Room).


‘A, I, O, U’, 2018 – Ben Pearce

Honing each piece out of wood, stone, metal and found objects, contemporary Hastings’ sculptor Ben Pearce has created a quartet of works by appropriating and refining construction industry remnants (at the Christchurch Casino). Exploring their potential transformation from one vernacular to another, Pearce references the written word with vowels found in both English and Te Reo that also connects the two cultures.


‘Plot’, 2008 – Brett Graham

Delving deep into the historical and political import behind the slicing and dicing of Te Waipounamu (the South Island) and its ‘purchase’ from Ngāi Tahu by the settler government, Brett Graham’s sculpture Plot (at Christ’s College), invites the consideration of how we value land. His carved marble slab is a topographic rendering of Te Waipounamu, which sits atop a tomb-like form as a nod to the notion that the land suffers a kind of death when viewed merely as a commodity.


‘Alphabetica Redux’, 2018 – Re:Presented Paul Hartigan

Continuing his exciting exploration of drawing with light, Hartigan revists his work from 2004, that is bigger and better than before. The same laser light technology used then has since taken leaps and bounds, and Alphabetica Redux has a greater colour palette and is now three dimensional. Check out the festival’s opening event (8:30pm – 10:30pm, Oct 5) where you’ll get to see the artist in action, bringing his own alphabet to life in this one-night-only spectacle.


‘Encircling’, 2006 – Re:Presented Michel De Broin

A new imagining of Canadian sculptor, Michel de Broin’s Encircling (originally installed for SCAPE 2016 Biennial in Hagley Park) can be found on the corner of Cambridge Terrace and Hereford Street this year. Adopting the urban language of street signs, asphalt and road markings, this ‘road to nowhere’ is a play on how urban design and planning aspires to reactivate spaces obliterated by the quakes.


‘Kotuku’, 2002 – Re:Presented Caroline Rothwell

Originally designed for the SCAPE Biennial 2002 – specifically for the Botanic Gardens pond – Caroline Rothwell has revisited Kotuku in a surreal, larger-than-life depiction of a three-headed heron on the Albert Lake. This haunting and mysterious play with light and shade, perspective and distortion, also offers the observer the opportunity to come to their own conclusions à la the Rorschach inkblot.



Three diverse public sculptures by SCAPE 18 Aspiring Artist winners have been created based on Canterbury’s intertwining rivers. Changing Pathways (Katie Temple) uses the concept of the ever-changing tides (depicted by traffic signs) as a metaphor for the daily choices we make, while the tangle of coloured sticks of Our Stories Make Us (Ollie Moginie) illustrates the interdependency each environmental element has with one another, and Kākahu (Kayla Folwell and Manaia Mahuika-Davies) uses the feathers of a korowai (cloak) – individually designed by 60 Christchurch students – to illustrate a bird’s eye view of the interconnected rivers. Find them at the Armagh Street entrance to Hagley Park.

Event Highlights

SCAPE Season 2018 Opening: Hellers Family Fun Day
Jam-packed with art action, giveaways, a Hellers barbie and live music courtesy of the Christchurch Pops Choir, this fun, free family event kicks off the six week SCAPE 18 festival of public art at Margaret Mahy Playground on October 6 from 10am (finishing at 2pm).

Book signing: Vivid: The Paul Hartigan Story
If you fell head over heels for Paul Hartigan’s laser light extravaganza on the opening night then you won’t want to miss meeting this enigmatic Kiwi artist at the Christchurch Art Gallery’s Design Store. Get him to pen you a note in his new book that showcases a chronology of his works from the 70s.

Art Explore Guided Walking Tours
These Saturday tours give you the complete SCAPE experience courtesy of an informed guide who will also share interesting asides about the artists and their practices. The first tour lasts an hour and departs from the Rolleston Statue outside the museum at 10am, and the second tour meets at 11am at the i-SITE Visitor Information Centre (Worcester Boulevard) and lasts for two hours.

Artists in Conversation
Get amongst it and discover fascinating insights into the artistic minds behind this year’s sculptural hits during SCAPE’s opening weekend. Join SCAPE Managing Curator, Heather Galbraith and Dr Huhana Smith on October 7 as they talk about the works with this season’s star-studded cast of artists.