About SCAPE Public Art

In 1998, SCAPE Public Art began to revolutionise the open spaces of Ōtautahi Christchurch – and public arts practice in Aotearoa New Zealand. SCAPE Public Art installs free-to-view contemporary public art in Central Christchurch, engaging the community through exciting work that is celebrated around Aotearoa and the world.

What do we do?

In 1998, SCAPE Public Art began to revolutionise the open spaces of Ōtautahi Christchurch – and public arts practice in Aotearoa New Zealand. SCAPE Public Art installs free-to-view contemporary public art in Central Christchurch, engaging the community through exciting work that is celebrated around Aotearoa and the world.

SCAPE Public Art installs public art in Ōtautahi Christchurch all year round, with a focus on its annual Seasons. We are the Christchurch experts in public art installation, and the SCAPE Public Art Seasons are New Zealand’s premier public art events.

We have become the largest producer of new contemporary public artwork in Aotearoa New Zealand. These artworks provide a unique point of difference for the city. Ambitious and high impact, they enhance the urban centre and raise the profile of public art in Ōtautahi Christchurch.

Held in Christchurch’s central city and supported through a range of partnerships, the Seasons showcase leading national and international contemporary artists, and provide a springboard for emerging local talent. Works in the Seasons are created as a result of close collaboration between art and business, a unique and highly regarded model worldwide.

Our Seasons provide an opportunity to focus on introducing new works while maintaining focus on an impressive base of legacy pieces, which activate Christchurch’s central city.

Our vision is for people to be excited, engaged and stimulated by contemporary public art and for Ōtautahi Christchurch to be a city with a world-class collection of public art that is widely known and visited.

What makes up a Season?

Our Seasons showcase art, learning and wellbeing for our local community and visitors, with key elements including:

Curated Exhibition

Tyson Campbell accepted the invitation to take up the role of Managing Curator with SCAPE Public Art for our 2023, 2024, 2025 Seasons. The theme for SCAPE Season 2023 is titled The Gift and builds on Tyson’s personal considerations around exchange and reciprocity. Departing from Derrida’s conception of the gift, explored in 1991 book Counterfeit Money, this theme spring-boards creative responses from the artists.

As a process of exchange, gifts facilitate a multi-faceted symbolic and material outcome, sometimes including indebtedness and the giving away, or even destruction, of valuable resources. Once a gift is given, the recipient, or in Derrida’s terms, the ‘donee’, is made responsible for a counter-gift, which may be as simple as acknowledging the gift-giver’s  generosity.

Of course, also, we are in Aotearoa, where we know and understand koha and utu as differentiated concepts of offerings, reciprocity, balance and response and can be understood as:

Ko maru kai atu, ko maru kai mai, ka ngohengohe.
Give as well as take, and all is well.

The artists selected will present a combination of new commissions and further explorations of existing practice. Here, the gift becomes a disruptive invitation to which the artists have responded in dynamic and varying ways. By highlighting the economy of exchange that shapes their  daily realities, aspirations,  and political imaginaries,  the  action of gift-gifting—whether material or experiential— opens up questions of comfort, relationship building, liberation, and memory.

SCAPE Public Art Walkway

Our walkway allows visitors to explore temporary and permanent artworks around our central city, weaving a trail around historic and natural landmarks. Guided walks start from Worcester Boulevard, passing Canterbury Museum, looping around Hagley Park, meandering to the Ōtākaro-Avon River and finishing back at the Arts Centre. Download our map to take a self-guided walk of our permanent artworks. 

SCAPE Education

SCAPE’s Education Programme offers opportunities for school groups to respond to public artworks, through practical and fun art-making activities inside the SCAPE classroom. Our classroom has been based in Tūranga, Christchurch’s new central library, since opening in October 2018.

SCAPE Events

We host celebrations as artworks are unveiled during our Season and throughout the year, when new artistic developments occur.

SCAPE Public Programme

A diverse range of events, including artist talks, workshops and free activities, take place throughout our Seasons, engaging our community with a deeper understanding of art.

Re:ACTIVATE Emerging and Aspiring Artists

SCAPE’s Re:ACTIVATE Public Art Development Workshop and Exhibition was launched in 2012, showcasing the talents of students in Ōtautahi. Young aspiring artists under the age of 18 submit their public art aspirations, with a minimum of two designs brought to life and exhibited as part of our Season each year. This year’s successful designs will be taking over Hagley Park from 9 October to 20 November 2021, growing a new generation of artists and art lovers.

Art In Residence

Thanks to generous support of local SCAPE supporters, we often host public art pop-ups in beautiful homes around Ōtautahi Christchurch and Aotearoa New Zealand as a means to raising funds, supporting our artists though their artwork sales all with the aim of growing and expanding our public art collection in Ōtautahi. To find out more and join the mailing list for these events, become a SCAPE Public Art Insider.

Ka tipu te whaihanga – Creativity will strengthen!

The Trust

The SCAPE Public Art Trust was launched in 1998 to assist with the successful management and development of SCAPE Public Art. The Trust provides a meeting ground for industry, public funders and contemporary visual artists, governing SCAPE Public Art and acting as a catalyst for contemporary public art in Ōtautahi Christchurch.  

Purposes

The purposes of the SCAPE Public Art Trust are promoting, developing and delivering public art and enhancing New Zealand’s cultural artistic identity by:

a) taking a prominent role in promoting, developing and delivering new public art in Waitaha Canterbury and Aotearoa New Zealand;

b) actively promoting Aotearoa New Zealand’s cultural identity throughout Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally;

c) working in partnership with tangata whenua to develop and deliver public art and public art programmes;

d) promoting access and engagement to public art through an education and public programmes framework;

e) evolving a genuine and equal partnership between art and industry to achieve public artworks;

f) developing and presenting an annual programme of events and associated activities to celebrate excellence in contemporary New Zealand and international public art;

g) achieving recognition of the annual programme of events and associated activities as iconic events with excellent engagement, thereby increasing cultural tourism; and

h) providing support and assistance to artists consistent with the purposes above.

We find ourselves in challenging times in the arts, both here in Aotearoa New Zealand and globally. SCAPE Public Art Trust strongly believes that the arts are essential to our wellbeing and how we make sense of our lives at this time of such dramatic environmental, social, cultural and artistic change. There are many challenges ahead for the arts community as a whole and SCAPE Public Art.

SCAPE has thrived through two decades, including the disruption of the Canterbury earthquakes. Our experiences in these turbulent times taught us to be resilient and innovative. The time since the earthquakes, although challenging in terms of funding, has seen SCAPE produce more artwork installations than in the previous decade. We have also seen the biennial festival evolve into an annual one, achieving audiences of more than 500,000 people.