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Under Construction - Chaos and Order | 2015

by Peter Atkins

A new work created for SCAPE 8 New Intimacies

Peter Atkins,  Under Construction - Chaos and Order  (Re-imagined) 2014 – 19. Commissioned by SCAPE Public Art. Photo by Caroline Fenton.

Peter Atkins, Under Construction - Chaos and Order (Re-imagined) 2014 – 19. Commissioned by SCAPE Public Art. Photo by Caroline Fenton.

A beautiful star pattern that suggests infinity and expresses love, empathy and solidarity is central to an artwork unveiled in Christchurch as part of SCAPE Season 2019.

Under Construction – Chaos and Order (Re-imagined) 2014–19 is a re-working by Peter Atkins of his artwork originally installed in 2014 following the traumatic Canterbury earthquakes. He has re-imagined half of the double-sided installation in response to the shocking attack on two Christchurch mosques on 15 March 2019.

“The loss, confusion and feelings of anger and uncertainty people experienced after the earthquakes were clearly evident again as I watched the recent horrific events unfold on the news. Like many people, I felt overwhelmed by what I was seeing and felt that I needed to respond,” he says.

Located near The Press building on Gloucester Street, the artwork features a different pattern on each side. One side is arranged randomly, engaging with the Chaos – obstacles, shards and blockages, alluding to feelings of uncertainty, confusion and frustration.

The opposite side, which has been re-imagined for Season 2019, presents the idea of Order, in which the panels are arranged systematically, as though the broken fragments of Chaos have been picked up and repositioned back in place. The artist has used an eight-star motif that references the traditional, geometric patterns of Islamic Art dating back to the ninth century – often seen in textiles, pierced screens, tilework and stained glass. The repeated star pattern forms a variety of symmetries that seem to extend indefinitely and thus suggests infinity.

“This new, re-imagined work is a way for me to say that the atrocious act committed against the Muslim community in Christchurch does not represent me nor my beautiful country, Australia. Under Construction – Chaos and Order (Re-imagined) is a simple gesture to express love, empathy and solidarity: to remind the community that we stand together as one.”

SCAPE Board Chair Michael Fulton says the original idea to transform the work had come from Atkins soon after the horrific events in March.

“The motivation was to respond in some way and show his support and sorrow for what had happened. We were immediately touched by the gesture and thought it needed to be transformed from a digital image to an actual re-imagination” he said.

“On that basis we consulted with the Muslim community to see if this would be well received, which it was. From there we were determined to make it happen. That the artwork can be viewed from level one of Tūranga Central Library – SCAPE’s Learning and Wellbeing Zone also seemed to be a great bonus.”

Peter Atkins

Peter Atkins checking prototype panel. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo by Dana Harris.

Peter Atkins checking prototype panel. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo by Dana Harris.

Peter Atkins is a celebrated Australian contemporary artist and an important representative of Australian art in the International arena. Over the past 25 years, he has exhibited in Australia, New Zealand, England, France, Spain, Italy, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Peter has been awarded residencies at the Cité International des Arts in Paris, The British School in Rome and Green Park in New Delhi, as well as Australia Council Studio residencies in Barcelona and Los Angeles. In 1994, he was sole Australian representative and gold medal recipient for his work titled World Journal at the VIII Triennale in India, which later toured extensively throughout Australia.  In 1996-97 his work was included in Systems End - Contemporary Art in Australia, curated by William Wright and Takeshi Kanazawa, and in 1999, his work was featured in Five Continents and One City in Mexico City, curated by Chinese curator Gao Minglu. More recently Atkins was invited to exhibit in the prestigious Clemenger Contemporary Art Award in 2009/10 and the landmark exhibition Melbourne Now in 2013/14, both at the National Gallery of Victoria. Peter Atkins lives and works in Melbourne, Australia.