A collaboration between the Botanic Gardens and the Robert McDougall Art Gallery, this event was initiated to celebrate the diversity of New Zealand sculptural practice. The three artists chosen to participate in this year's exhibition, Stuart Griffiths, Paul Cullen and Fiona Gunn, have created works which play on and reveal the environmental, spatial and historical resonances of their chosen garden sites.
The expansive Christchurch Botanic Gardens will again provide the backdrop for contemporary sculpture by three New Zealand artists in the fourth Sculpture in the Gardens exhibition. A collaboration between the Botanic Gardens and the Robert McDougall Art Gallery, this event was initiated to celebrate the diversity of New Zealand sculptural practice. The three artists chosen to participate in this year's exhibition, Stuart Griffiths, Paul Cullen and Fiona Gunn, have created challenging and intriguing works which play on and reveal the environmental, spatial and historical resonances of their chosen garden sites.
Born in Hamilton in 1958, Stuart Griffiths graduated from the University of Canterbury in 1980 with a Diploma in Fine Arts (Sculpture). Griffiths has participated in exhibitions throughout New Zealand and internationally, including shows at the Warnambol Art Gallery in Warnambol, Australia and the Glynllifon Sculpture Park in Caernafon, Wales. An assistant administrator for the 1981 ANZART project in Christchurch, Griffiths co-curated ANZART in Hobart in 1983. His most recent project involved designing a new entrance-way for the Dunedin Botanic Gardens in 1998. Combining architectural and environmental elements from the existing entrance with symbols drawn from native plant forms, Griffiths"s structure integrated allusions to classical European Garden design with materials and imagery indigenous to the local area. Griffiths' project for Sculpture in the Gardens 1999 involves the 'framing' of a section of the Botanic Gardens using a window constructed of slabs of chlorite schist. The monumental scale of this stone frame suggests the grandeur of the eughteenth-century 'folly' – ornamental houses and ruins which were constructed by wealthy and eccentric landowners to highlight particular sections of a garden or landscape.
Fiona Gunn was born in Australia in 1962. She attended the Sydney College of the Arts receiving a Bachelor of Visual Arts in 1983 and a Post-Graduate in 1984. In 1993, Gunn received a Master of Fine Arts from the University of New South Wales. She has held extensive academic appointments in both Australia and New Zealand and is currently Senior Lecturer in Sculpture, Drawing and Critical Studies at the University of Canterbury"s School of Fine Arts. She has represented numerous arts agencies including the High Street Project Trust, Christchurch, and the Olivia Spencer Bower Foundation Committee, Christchurch. Gunn's work has been exhibited extensively in New Zealand and overseas since 1982, including Fragments (1998), image/text work in Japan and Australia, and solo installations in Teststrip Gallery, Auckland and Artspace, Sydney in 1996. Fiona Gunn's work will be a site specific installation which focuses on the exchange of seed and living plants that occurred between England and New Zealand at the time the Gardens were being planned and planted. Situated at the end of the Archery Lawn furthest from the Art Gallery, Gunn's glass 'seed vault' will act as a metaphor for the cultural exchanges between Europe and Aotearoa since the time of the European colonisation of Aotearoa.
Paul Cullen was born in Te Awamutu in 1949. He has a Bachelor of Science from Auckland University and a Diploma of Fine Arts (Honours) in Sculpture from the University of Canterbury. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions and held various solo exhibitions in New Zealand since 1975 including Reconstructed furniture & blackboard drawings (1994) at the Aberhart-North Gallery, Auckland, and Discovery of Oxygen (1996) at Artspace, Auckland. In 1994–5 he studied Landscape Design history, theory and practice at Unitec and in 1994 he collaborated with landscape architects Patrick Corfe and Associates on the design development for a park in Glenfield North Shore City. Earlier this year, Cullen completed a six week residency at the School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury. He currently tutors at Unitec, Auckland and at the Manuaku Institute of Technology, Auckland. Cullen's planned installation for Sculpture in the Gardens 1999 will be placed on the site of the old Magnetic Observatory which was decommissioned in 1930 after being rendered useless by increasing electrical interference. Taking the form of a curved enclosed space containing tracks and a trolley, Cullen's work reflects the history of the site and reveals allusions to the scientific concepts of gravity and inertia.
This exhibition was held in the Botanic Gardens.