Jim Speers Light Box Commission Oriel Window, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu
10 July 2004
A specially commissioned installation by New Zealand artist Jim Speers is lighting up the picturesque Oriel Window at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu. Comprised of a series of suspended, coloured light-boxes, the work was unveiled for the Gallery’s first birthday celebrations in early May.
The commission was made possible through the efforts of the Friends of the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu who raised funds for a major acquisition for the Permanent collection. The Gallery combined this generous gift with an opportunity for a commissioned work in the Oriel Window space and decided that a light-based work would retain the integrity of the space whilst also giving the Gallery a presence in the street below and at night. The commission also formed part of the Gallery’s Annual Acquisitions programme.
Combining soft pinks, greens, blues and radiant yellows with minimalist, geometric forms, Speer’s installation is made from acrylic boxes covered with coloured vinyl, which are then illuminated with fluorescent light. Created in response to the site, it is designed to retain the reflective quality of the Oriel window space, operating as a large, conventional artwork on the back wall of the space, but also glowing out through the window to provide a spectacle for those passing below.
Born in 1970, Speers attended the University of Canterbury, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1992. He produced sculptural works for local and national exhibitions in a variety of media and in 1998 was invited to participate in the prestigious Sydney Biennale. He produced a radiant corridor filled with light boxes inspired by an everyday sights - fashion motifs, advertising hoardings and illuminated restaurant signs. Speers received the Olivia Spencer Bower Award in 1998 and was the Frances Hodgkins Fellow at the University of Otago in 2000.
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