It’s been 20 years, 20 extraordinary, exciting, mind-expanding years, since SCAPE Public Art began to revolutionise the open spaces of Ōtautahi Christchurch – and public arts practice in Aotearoa New Zealand. This bold initiative stepped outside the gallery walls and into the city, to make contemporary art, both national and international, truly public in a fresh and exciting way. And it did so by involving industry and business, and the various communities of the city, in commissioning and realising both arts projects and permanent works.
To celebrate this significant achievement, a fascinating and richly illustrated book telling the SCAPE story has been published. Written by well-known arts commentator and historian Dr Warren Feeney, OUT THERE: SCAPE Public Art 1998–2018 traces how public sculpture has gone beyond the traditional concept of ‘monuments in an open plaza’ to become something full of possibility and surprise – whether temporary, ephemeral, an event in which people could participate or a lasting part of the urban landscape.
The book tracks, too, the unexpected and fruitful partnerships that have grown up between the visual arts and industry and business, and not only in the form of sponsorship for artworks and projects. Mutual support and understanding have flourished.
Also recounted is the narrative of SCAPE during the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. What are the roles and responsibilities of the visual arts in natural disasters? How can they help to normalise when everything is abnormal?
Drawing on interviews with the originators and supporters of SCAPE, and with the artists themselves, Warren Feeney has written a lively and appealing account of two amazing decades. Stunning images of the artworks themselves, and superb design, make OUT THERE: SCAPE Public Art 1998–2018 a beautiful and special book. No one interested in the visual arts of this country should be without it.
“It’s an essential book for anyone interested in public art in general, and also an important visual record of every work of art installed by SCAPE” adding, “I really enjoyed Out There. It brought back many wonderful memories.” Andrew Paul Wood, EyeContact
Dr Warren Feeney has been writing about and commenting on the visual arts in Aotearoa New Zealand for more than 25 years. He is the author of CSA: The Radical, the Reactionary and the Canterbury Society of Arts, 1880–1996 (Canterbury University Press, 2010) and the co-author, with Peter Alsop, of Marcus King: Painting New Zealand for the World (Potton & Burton, 2015). He contributes regularly to the Press, to www.eyecontactsite.com and to such publications as Art News, World Sculpture News and Asian Art News.
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