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STAY | 2015/16

by Antony Gormley

STAY is a legacy public artwork for Christchurch, installed as part of SCAPE 8 New Intimacies

Antony Gormley, STAY, 2015. (Left: Arts Centre Installation; Right: Avon River Installation). Commissioned by the Christchurch City Council Public Art Advisory Group. Courtesy of the Artist.

STAY, 2015/2016 by British artist Antony Gormley, is a new legacy public art work for Christchurch. The project will be installed in two parts. The first figure, as part of SCAPE 8 New Intimacies, was installed mid-current in the Ōtākaro - Avon River. The second figure, completing the artwork was installed in the Northern Quadrangle of the Arts Centre in October 2016.

In the artist’s own words: “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. 

- Antony Gormley, July 2015.

Nei te reo o Ngāi Tūāhuriri:

Ngāi Tūāhuriri have a key role as manawhenua within the central city area of Ōtautahi - Christchurch to ensure the cultural well-being of the city is maintained for future generations.

Ngāi Tūāhuriri therefore supports the artist’s hope that the work is seen to signify progressive rehabilitation, healing, growth; reflecting the past and acknowledging the future. 

Situating the artwork entitled STAY in the waters of Ōtākaro - Avon River has the potential to provide a strong visual connection to the awa and in effect, reconnecting the local community to manawhenua sites of significance while acknowledging the awa as a central part of our cultural identity. Furthermore, this artwork also has the ability to draw an international audience into close proximity of culturally significant sites along Ōtākaro.

Additionally, the support structure of the artwork - designed to provide shelter to aquatic life and plants - highlights the importance of Mahinga Kai (traditional food gathering) practices of Ngāi Tūāhuriri on and along the river.

Antony Gormley

Antony Gormley; photo by Oak Taylor-Smith.

Antony Gormley; photo by Oak Taylor-Smith.

Antony Gormley is widely acclaimed for his sculptures, installations and public artworks that investigate the relationship of the human body to space. Gormley’s work has been widely exhibited throughout the UK and internationally with exhibitions at Forte di Belvedere, Florence (2015); Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern (2014); Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia (2012); Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2012); The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg (2011); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2010); Hayward Gallery, London (2007); Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (1993) and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (1989). Permanent public works include the Angel of the North (Gateshead, England), Another Place (Crosby Beach, England), Inside Australia (Lake Ballard, Western Australia) and Exposure (Lelystad, The Netherlands). Gormley was awarded the Turner Prize in 1994, the South Bank Prize for Visual Art in 1999, the Bernhard Heiliger Award for Sculpture in 2007, the Obayashi Prize in 2012 and the Praemium Imperiale in 2013. In 1997 he was made an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) and was made a knight in the New Year’s Honours list in 2014. Antony Gormley was born in London in 1950.