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Contemporary Art Puts Focus On Iconic Figure

Media Release – 6 October 2008


Tatzu Oozu changes the context of the James Cook monument in Victoria Square, Christchurch New Zealand.

It’s more than 210 years since Captain James Cook landed in and made his mark on New Zealand, yet when Bob Blyth, deputy chair of Christchurch’s Art & Industry Biennial Trust, asked a number of locals where Cook’s marble statue is located, most didn’t know. Just as well, then, that Japanese artist Tatzu Oozu’s work, entitled Endeavour, focuses on the famous explorer.

“Oozu’s work in Victoria Square offers a contemporary take on an historical sculpture,” says Bob Blyth. “By placing James Cook in a familiar domestic environment, Oozu lets us see Captain Cook the man. Equally importantly, it puts him in the spotlight and reminds us where and who he is."

This work is one of 25 on display in public spaces around Christchurch until November 2, as part of the SCAPE 2008 Christchurch Biennial. Oozu’s work centred on the Cook statue is similar to work he has done with famous statues in other parts of the world, including Queen Victoria in Liverpool. Bob Blyth says the work challenges our perceptions. “Oozu changes the context of the James Cook monument in Victoria Square by constructing a room around the sculpture, so we can get a new perspective of, and a physical intimacy with, this significant historical figure,” he says.

“It also challenges us to redefine objects and spaces, by finding new meaning through our own experiences,” he added.

As part of the process of preparing this temporary artwork, Captain Cook’s statue has been protected and restored, with workers taking advantage of the framework around it to repair some long-time damage.


This project has been made possible through the generous support of: Fletcher Construction, Placemakers, Riccarton, Anderson Lloyd Lawyers, Beca, Coffey Projects, Heritage Management Services, Asia New Zealand Foundation and Christchurch City Council’s Public Art Fund.

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