This article first appeared in The Press on 14 September 2005
90˚ device, beating by Christchurch sculptor Andrew Drummond has an audible presence in the contemporary gallery of the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū long before it is visible.
A peculiar beating sound greets visitors and when the work in question is encountered visually it generates levels of rapt fascination and wonder. The sculptural combination of materials, movement and spatial qualities assert an air of style and authority, yet the device is also a subtle reminder of the fragility of land and body.
90˚ device, beating is part of a kinetic installation commissioned by the Robert McDougall Art Gallery for the exhibition For beating and breathing at the Art Annex in 1995. A glass ‘table top' placed upon a brass stand is etched with an arterial route or braided river, the jagged glass edge evocative of the Canterbury coastline. Blue liquid is pumped along the route and into a brass reservoir, the idiosyncratic beating and twitching of plastic tubes symbolic of medical intervention and the sound of a human heart. The total metaphorical and visual integration of this piece is perhaps why it engages the complete attention of visitors to the gallery. Although only one part of a larger installation it is still able to be appreciated as a singular sculpture. The other kinetic component to For beating and breathing is for breathing and reaching, a suspended glass tube in which a brass vehicle shunts its way up and down the tube, pushing out and withdrawing delicate and quivering willow branches.
As a sculptor whose uncompromising views on the art world challenge the status quo, Drummond continues to create highly original work. His aesthetic philosophy is one that has consistently embraced a deep understanding of the social role of art. After retiring in 2002 as Head of Sculpture at the School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury, Drummond now works full time on public and private sculpture commissions in his Woolston studio.