Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Responding to Nature

This is one of the few Christchurch public artworks that, up until now, I have studiously ignored. I’m not sure why. It’s not that I don’t like it – well, not exactly – rather that it annoys me at some level that I haven't quite been able to pinpoint. I feel a little cheated that Christchurch has ended up with what I would call one of Chris Booth’s ‘lesser works.’ The work, obviously created by New Zealand sculptor, Chris Booth, is entitled Taurapa and was created as the Christchurch-Seattle Sister City Sculpture in 1996-97. The form of the sculpture resembles a taurapa, or the stern post of a Maori waka (canoe) and it references the waka that once plied the river it sits beside. Booth, born in 1948 in the Far North, has exhibited widely throughout New Zealand and internationally. Along with several public works in New Zealand he has completed public commissions in Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands. I’ve seen a good many of Booth’s works and he has a reverence for nature that I like – that in fact is what strikes a chord in most of his viewers. His works have a certain ‘humanity’ to them. He’s not trying to be too clever, too esoteric, too intellectual. They pay homage to the land they are created in; they use the materials of the site and they celebrate the raw beauty of nature. I particularly like his Earth Blanket series, which you can check out by visiting his website. (This work is from his Slab Series). Most of his major works are illustrated there, so I’ll let you form your own opinions. www.crhisbooth.co.nz

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