photos by Andre Van De Ven and Samantha Lissette
Permanent Public Sculpture, Auckland Botanic Gardens Front Lawn
Situated on the main lawn of the Auckland Botanic Gardens, this is the first of the Bird Chair series, made for the 2015/16 Sculpture in the Gardens. It was donated to the permanent sculpture collection by Art Patrons.
I wanted to make something both playful and useful to go into a public space which not only allowed touching, but actively invited a tactile response. I wanted a more immersive experience of bronze, not just touch, but to further embrace the work. I thought it a good way to encourage children and adults to break barriers between art and public and engender positive responses and healthy relationships. So when I thought of the chair, I felt it would fit the bill pretty well.
This was such a challenging artwork to make for all involved. I had no idea if it would work, if the bronze would be suitable to sit in. So I enlisted the help of a structural engineer to design an internal steel structure to support the weight of multiple people at a time on any point of the sculpture. I also had to simplify and soften the form to allow for safety, with small children climbing all over it. If I made another one, I’d put a lot more detail into it.
I love visiting the Gardens and seeing families picnic beside the chair, kids eating their lunch or sitting contemplatively in it, or couples and friends climbing on it. This is exactly what I had in mind, an acceptance of art within a public domain.