Wellington: A City for Sculpture

Front Cover
Jenny Harper, Aaron Lister
Victoria University Press, 2007 - Art - 144 pages

Featuring brilliant urban photography, this celebration of the dynamic presence of sculpture in Wellington vividly captures more than 40 sculptures throughout the city’s streets and parks. An informative and provocative examination of the sculptures' origins, this collection shows how many of the gorgeous art works came into being due to the shared vision of individuals, government agencies, and corporations who value the relationship of art and city, to brighten the lives of its citizens. The result is both a visual feast and a unique record of the 21st-century city’s fabric—sure to be treasured by travelers, art enthusiasts, and locals alike.


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It is good the publishers and editors took my idea of including the cabbage patch in this book. It is mainly ok - but had the author taken the time to actually talk with me/ interview me the many mistakes in it would not have been made... luckily though the environmental and occupy and fiscal tide that was just starting to come in when it was written now positions the book as significant as it did - highlighting a work that only one institution in the nation has any record of - that being Te Papa - a work now seen by most as the antecedent of a world wide movement with strands to Occupy movement, Guerrilla and urban gardening, yarn bombing and a vast array of urban greening - via art and or urban design... even urban food foraging and the more recent connection to 'artists being seen as both change agents and leaders in society oh and - culture'.
It is an odd amalgam though - this book... not quite coffee table, not academically rigorous, not even really populist it falls between the gaps.
The distinct hierarchy of presentation (who pays Peter?) which is so blatantly not chronological - (and we ask why?) focusses on these monolithic bloated products of a very small band of city commissars of culture - the Wellington Sculpture trust - who are almost impossible to speak with and who, it would seem, only really ever commission these works from artists who do not issue from our own town?!? - again we may well ask - because the book doesn't - WHY?
And we will no doubt see in the choices made by the WST and their scale and budgets with not so fond historical hindsight - one day - that these emissions actually fall into the unseemly pantheon of public sculpture the like of which only Mussolini surpassed... I do make one exception though - the Hotere jumbled letters in bronze - facing CNZ is a great work - with some real semiological depth - sad though now that its temporality has meant it has lost more than half of its meaning and value because CNZ is no longer its neighbour.
So - I want to thank the authors and publisher - for at least beginning to write about the art of our fair city - my goodness - though - where is the book about our Artists co-op, the Arts centre? artists collectives and their role in the capital's progress from Muldoon doldrums to vaguely effervescent 'cultural capital'
Barry Thomas
Artist/ Film Maker



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About the author (2007)

Jenny Harper is director of the Christchurch Art Gallery. Aaron Lister is exhibitions curator at the National Library Gallery, National Library of New Zealand. Bruce Connew is a photographer who has shown more than 20 solo and group exhibitions.

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