Verdant Geometry by Erica van Zon for SCAPE Public Art Season 2018
Wellington-based artist Erica van Zon made a suite of sculptures in metal, glass and mirror responding to the neo-classical conservatory Cuningham House in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, which opened to the public as the Winter Garden in 1924. Van Zon focused on architectural qualities of the space, particularly doorways and windows that have been adapted and re-fashioned, often using more contemporary materials than the original build, and iconography from the railings. She combined these with stylistic reference points from 1980s interior architecture and design manuals, to consider how architectural tropes and styles are morphed and adapted over time. Decorative glass used in domestic and leadlight windows feature strongly in the works, referencing ongoing traditions of embellishing architecture with ornament. The lush botanical plants are housed in this ornate yet very ordered environment. Among them are 80-year-old specimens which were collected by the Botanic Gardens curator of the time, James Young, while on a dedicated plant sourcing trip to Australia. The plant collection in 2018 included orchids, breadfruit, guava, paw paw, date and sago palms, and bananas.