STAY, 2015/16 – Antony Gormley
SCAPE Public Art
Gormley says of his piece: “Christchurch is a well-ordered city based on a 19th century urban plan which suddenly became chaotic through planetary forces rupturing human design. SCAPE 8 presents the ideal opportunity to ask whether art can instigate and give space for new attitudes and begin to heal and encourage reconciliation. Post-quake, this city is a human habitat forced by nature to reformulate. The attitude of the work I have made for it carries a sense of reflection or ‘taking stock’. It’s an old cliché, but in every disaster there’s opportunity. Can memory be reconciled with anticipation? Can renewal bring a new sense of self and city by acknowledging the private, intimate and personal in two very different public spaces?
STAY comprises two identical works that translate a human body into a rising form of bold crystalline cells; both link time, place and consciousness. They look down: one into the moving waters of the Ōtākaro/Avon River and the other the paved ground of the Arts Centre. They are made of a concentrated earth material, iron. The works take a single moment of human time and place it in two distinct contexts: a tree-lined river where the trees were unscathed and the river never ceased to flow, and an historic building that, although damaged, survived the quake. Sited in the Northern Quadrangle, the work is glimpsed laterally within the horizontal shelter of an imposed architectural order, whilst the other is immersed in nature. In these places the materialised memory of this particular body acts as measure and marker both in a humanly built habitat and the elemental world.
STAY is non-monumental, at human scale; neither a landmark nor an icon, but a quiet catalyst for reflection. It is a form of acupuncture to revitalise a traumatised urban field. Each work marks a place, but will also talk to a time that does not yet exist.”
Commissioned by the Christchurch City Council Public Art Advisory Group. Courtesy of the Artist. Photo by Bridgit Anderson.