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12 September 2008

A fleet of ultra-shiny bicycles, a stage set for a non-existent beauty pageant, and a grassy forecourt gathering space are unlikely art exhibits - but they’ll all be on show at Christchurch Art Gallery from next Saturday (20 September).

These three artworks are a small part of the SCAPE 2008 Christchurch Biennial of Art in Public Space - this year entitled Wandering Lines: Towards a New Culture of Space. Every two years, SCAPE brings renowned international artists to Christchurch to create exciting new public artworks. For the second time in SCAPE’s 10-year history, Christchurch Art Gallery is a hub for SCAPE activities and a major exhibition venue.

During this year’s SCAPE, visitors to the Gallery can see Guillaume Bijl’s glittering stage set for an imaginary beauty competition. Bijl is a Belgian artist who specialises in recreating real world environments - such as a section from a supermarket (complete with well stocked shelves), a furnishing shop, or a disco - in unexpected places. For SCAPE, he has recreated the Miss Christchurch competition, complete with stage, podium and microphone.

Other artists exhibiting at the Gallery are Maider López (Spain), Pat Foster and Jen Berean (Australia), Callum Morton (Australia), and Karin Sander (Germany). After visiting their exhibits at the Gallery, there’s an opportunity to relax in the tiered, grassy amphitheatre created outside the Gallery’s foyer. The amphitheatre is the work of Murat and Fuat Şahinler of Turkey, who have transformed a vacant area of the forecourt into a usable, enjoyable space. The Gallery’s Senior Curator Justin Paton describes the Şahinlers’ installation as “merging a classic Christchurch front lawn with a classical structure for shaping public space - the amphitheatre."

The next step is to try out an interactive exhibit and borrow one of Ann Veronica Janssens’s elegant silver bikes to explore the rest of SCAPE’s outdoor artworks spread around the city. The Belgian artist’s bikes can be borrowed free of charge from the Gallery’s foyer, and come complete with a helmet and a map of SCAPE exhibits around the city.

“We know SCAPE will be conceptually and visually stimulating - not to mention physically stimulating for visitors who choose to borrow one of the bicycles,” says Gallery Director Jenny Harper.

“Each of the artists is presenting their unique way of interpreting the structures and everyday realities of the city, and in the process revealing new perspectives of familiar spaces. We invite locals and visitors to come to the Gallery, take a fresh look at the familiar and be challenged and delighted by the works on show.”


SCAPE will be at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu from 20 September until 30 November. Other SCAPE events (not at Christchurch Art Gallery) conclude 2 November.


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