Sculpture in the Gardens 1995-1996

6 December 1995 – 12 May 1996


Once again the Gallery, in collaboration with the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, is organising a public display of contemporary sculpture in an outdoor venue. This year the project involves four New Zealand sculptors who will all be using stone as their major material. Participating this year will be Judy Mclntosh Wilson, Bronwyn Taylor, Pauline Rhodes and Chris Booth.

The Northland artist, Chris Booth will be importing a large slab of crystalline sandstone. Using a flexible stainless steel cable, he will thread smaller stones from Birdlings Flat and Rakaia into a helix structure which carries a tribute to the nikau. Gallery visitors will recall his slender South Island Rock Columns in the Gallery Centre Court in 1989, and again he works his own magic making the rocks hang in space, defying our usual concept of what stone can do.

Christchurch sculptor Pauline Rhodes will be installing Moonstone Spiral at the far end of the archery lawn linking earth, vegetation and sky. The spiral is seen as a positive energising form, both opening out from the centre, and embracing surrounding energies, pulling them inwards. Made with rounded forms of Oamaru stone Moonstone Spiral will temporarily take possession of the space with a shape that is timeless and universal and found in the cosmic and microcosmic systems of growth and movement.

A similar theme will be found in Judy Mclntosh Wilson's installation Outside Inside which will be installed on the pine mound near the Gallery. Making local reference to the ancient circle sites in Europe, this new work will use a black basalt stone from the Woodstock, Burnt Hill region near Oxford. Some of the stone faces will be left with their natural weathered brown grey exterior, others will be cut and polished to a smooth face as though worn by years of contact as people sat amongst them or touched their surfaces. In all aspects, this is a piece which the artist intends will relate to, and draw on, the unique characteristics of this impressive site. It will also be making reference to the processes of decay, change, growth and the circular movement of the seasons, of day and night, of the sun and the earth, and of the cycle of life.

The fourth sculptor this year is Bronwyn Taylor who will be using Charteris Bay stone from the old quarry at the Orton Bradley estate. This ancient sandstone was laid down well before the formation of the Lyttelton and Akaroa volcanoes and has a highly distinctive structure fractured into regular geometric blocks its outer surface has a thick iron coloured skin due to years of chemical reaction to quietly seeping rainwater passing along the natural joint lines through the mass. But inside a completely different surface is exposed. The delicately coloured layers of sand which initially formed the stone are still visible. Bronwyn Taylor will be working with these inner and outer features of the stone, with the play between organic and geometric and with the ideas of inner and outer in her Charteris Bay Formation which will be installed on the lawn at the end of the perennial beds and just outside the rose garden.

Set within the amazing open spaces and plantings of the Botanic Gardens this combination of talent will make Sculpture in the Gardens 1995 a fascinating and evocative exhibition. Through it the public will be challenged and fascinated to see how traditional stone is being used by a group of innovative and stylish New Zealand sculptors, who are also making their distinctive mark on the international scene.

('Sculpture in the Gardens 1995', Bulletin, No.99, December 1995/January 1996, p.2)