The 4 Plinths Sculpture Award
The 4 Plinths are the massive bollards situated on the waterfront between Te Papa and Circa Theatre. It is here the Trust has made a departure from permanent to temporary public art, and showcases New Zealand sculptural practice with biennial temporary sculpture installations. The project forms part of the New Zealand International Arts Festival’s visual arts programme.
The aim of the project is to foster art, artists and audience interactions, and to provide an opportunity for established and emerging artists to work in the area of large-scale public sculpture.
The artwork, titled Other Worlds, is the sixth in the 4 Plinths series and was opened on 21 February 2018 and is expected to remain on the site until January 2020. It comprises four globes each approximately 2 metres diameter, made of polystyrene with steel interiors. The surfaces are painted over a cement and fibreglass mixed shell.
What can a globe mean in an era of globalisation? Other Worlds conveys enigmatic and unfamiliar views of Earth or Mars. Each globe is based on an existing model from the world of science or map history. These are gravitational fields, carbon emissions, a 17th-century vision of the world without water, or a utopian fantasy about Mars’ canals. The artist aims to show us the world anew, encouraging fresh thinking about an image we take for granted.
Ruth Watson is an internationally recognised artist who has had over 30 solo exhibitions in New Zealand, Australia, Europe and the USA. She is a Senior Lecturer at the Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland. She has used a wide variety of materials in her work, from road safety glass to chocolate wrapping paper, animal tissues (once only!) and video or photography. She also writes occasionally about maps.