By Erica van Zon for SCAPE Public Art Season 2018
Wellington-based artist Erica van Zon has made a suite of new 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 has 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 has 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 lead light windows feature strongly in the works, referencing ongoing traditions of embellishing architecture with ornament. The lush botanical plants housed within this ornate, yet very ordered environment, include 80-year-old specimens collected by the Botanic Gardens curator of the time James Young, while on a dedicated plant sourcing trip to Australia. The current plant collection includes orchids, breadfruit, guava, paw paw, date and sago palms, and bananas.
Erica van Zon
Since completing her Masters at the Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland in 2007, Erica van Zon has exhibited in artist-run spaces, private galleries and public institutions both nationally and internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include: Opal Moon, Local Lime (Sarjeant Gallery, Whanganui, 2017 and Objectspace, Auckland, 2018); Coffee Perhaps, (Dowse Art Museum and Melanie Roger Gallery, Auckland 2016-18); Dogwood Days (Dunedin Public Art Gallery, 2013-2014); The Light on the Dock (City Gallery, Wellington, 2013-2014); Somewhere It’s Dawn (The Engine Room Gallery, Wellington, 2012); Moving Forward (Rm, Auckland, 2012); Prismatic Time (City Gallery, Wellington, 2011); and Take This With You (Newcall Gallery, Auckland, 2009). She has also exhibited within curated exhibitions and group shows such as: Everyday Lines, (Hastings City Art Gallery, 2017), Knitted and Knotted (The Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt, 2011) and Tender is the Night (City Gallery, Wellington, 2011). Van Zon has received significant recognition for her work; in 2011 she participated in the WCC/AsiaNZ WARE residency at Red Gate in Beijing and in 2007 she won the inaugural Iris Fisher scholarship at Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts. In 2014 she was artist-in-residence at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Erica van Zon is represented by Melanie Roger Gallery, Auckland and Millers O’Brien Gallery, Wellington.