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Christchurch urged to vote for art with their wallets


Tuesday 13th May 2014

Christchurch urged to vote for art with their wallets.

Christchurch residents are being asked to get behind a new large-scale sculpture project, initiated by Auckland artist, Regan Gentry and local social entrepreneur company, Brown Bread Ltd – with the aim to investigate how easy it is to produce quality art in the central city.

Woods from the Trees: A project of possibility’ will be a three-piece eight metre tall sculpture and installed on the corner of Tuam and High Streets opposite C1 Espresso in late June.

The project aims to test Christchurch residents’ desire for more public art. Jo Blair, Director, Brown Bread says: “You hear people saying they want quality art for the city that actually responds to our situation down here. Regan is one artist who is fascinated with Christchurch as a blank canvas, we liked his idea, and we asked ourselves ‘why can’t we do more quality art here without having to rely on the Council, government Christchurch Art Gallery or SCAPE? Let’s give it a shot ourselves.’

Gentry and Brown Bread have independently initiated $100,000 for the project for the next three to five years, but are relying on the public to fund a $20,000 funding gap through crowd-funding website PledgeMe, to make the project a reality. They are interested to see if the public will vote with their wallets for more art of this scale and quality. All pledges receive fun rewards in return, including Regan carving your initials in the tree canopy for a $150 pledge.

Gentry was surprised by how few national artists (apart from those curated by the Christchurch Art Gallery) have implemented public sculpture in the city. “About a year ago, I saw lots of going on, but little enduring or commenting on the situation in Christchurch (apart form the Gallery’s Outer Spaces programme). Then I wondered ‘how hard must it be”.

Bringing a little nature back into the central city, Woods from the Trees uses native rimu waste wood salvaged from earthquake-damaged homes. The sculpture allows numerous interpretations for the residents of, and visitors to, Christchurch. It hybridises the built and natural environment, by returning the milled lumber to its original form.

The rimu trees are visually reminiscent of the original species milled to make the buildings that have been demolished. Gentry notes that “the immense size and presence is indicative of the city's rebuild and a reminder of the great challenges that still lie ahead for Christchurch.”

Gentry and Brown Bread launched a PledgeMe campaign today (Tuesday 13th May) to encourage residents to take ownership of the sculpture and ‘pledge’ some money towards the project

The sculpture project has come together this far through the help of Christchurch organisations who have collaborated on the project. The work of art has been made possible by Department of Conservation, City Care, Leighs Construction, as well as a range of smaller partners including Butterfield Construction and Brown Bread providing the services, materials and tools to make the project a reality for Christchurch.

Craig Taylor, from City Care, a major sponsor of Woods from the Trees says: “City Care’s involvement in the rebuild is not just about the horizontal and vertical infrastructure of Christchurch, but also about building more art and a cultural fabric for the city.”

About the Artist

Regan Gentry is a sculptor whose artistic practice creatively illustrates peoples’ relationships to their environment, local history and situational circumstances. Using a wide range of materials and situations, his work is characterised by a playful musing and use of material, language, location and structure. Gentry has a great interest in Christchurch and the city's rebuild; having grown up near Napier and cape kidnappers where the geological history of New Zealand is impossible to ignore.


Woods from the Trees would not have been possible without these good roosters: Department of Conservation; City Care; Leighs Construction; Brown Bread; Butterfield Construction; Signbiz; McCarthy; Creative New Zealand; Christchurch City Council; C1 Espresso; Federal Print; Smash Palace; Michael and Maureen Moore; Phil Price; Neil Dawson; Miranda Parkes; Alistair Blair.

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