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Sculpture to Make Dramatic Entrance

18 February 2003

Another milestone in the completion of the new Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu will be achieved this week with the installation of the monumental entrance sculpture.

Reasons for Voyaging, by local sculptor Graham Bennett, is currently being installed on the corner of Worcester Boulevard and Montreal Street. The work consists of seven angled stainless steel poles up to 13 metres tall. Each bead-blasted pole supports an overhead element operated by motors and digital controls to achieve subtle movements.

Graham Bennett says Reasons for Voyaging suggests the great sea voyages across the Pacific, with allusions to traditional navigational systems, such as star maps. On the south face of each pole, sections of ancient totara, gifted by Ngai Tahu provide contrast and make a further direct reference to the natural world.

Speaking about his inspiration for the work, Bennett says, “I am interested in how various peoples reference their environment, their symbols for a sense of place, and in particular New Zealand and our orientation in the Pacific – exploring aspects of migration, colonisation, trade and identity. Looking forward, looking back, looking up.”

Reasons For Voyaging is a collaborative effort between Bennett and Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu architect David Cole, an aspect of the project that particularly appealed to Bennett,

“It was an interesting challenge to try and construct shapes and spaces which exist only as plans, elevations and computer walk-throughs,” says Graham Bennett.

“It has been a demanding aspect but there are considerable advantages in integrating a sculptural object into the planning part of a building.”

 “Reasons for Voyaging is a major public art work for the city.” says Curator of Contemporary Art Felicity Milburn.

“Much more than merely a decorative adjunct to the building, it will provide a welcoming and inclusive gateway for visitors to the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu.”

The installation is also marks a significant achievement for the artist, who has dedicated the last 20 months to the project.

A graduate from the Canterbury University School of Fine Arts, Graham Bennett is now on leave from the position of Principal Academic Staff Member at the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology’s School of Art and Design.  

Graham Bennett works largely with stone, iron, wood and steel, and his work encompasses both delicate, formal small-scale sculptures and major environmental installations. Drawing, in a semi-abstract, expressionist form, is also a major part of his practice.

In addition to the Reasons for Voyaging project for the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, Graham Bennett recently completed a memorial sculpture from materials taken from the World Trade Centre site and gifted to the Christchurch Fire-fighters Association by the City of New York.

For further information:
Jo Scully or Gerard Blank
Glass Tower Strategic Communications
03 365 1445 or 0275 384 069

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