About this time last year I wrote that we would publish some of our more recent competition entries, some of which have never seen the light of day like this one.
This collaboration was one of three finalists in a Wellington Sculpture Trust competition back in 2009. The Trust called for proposals for large sculpture to be sited at the gateway to the city (the design competition was essentially a re-run of a 2004 process as the previous competition winning proposal had stalled because of laser beam issues as well as the projected cost).
The three shortlisted proposals were from Kristin O’Sullivan Peren of Central Otago, Phil Price of Christchurch, and Paul Rolfe and Arini Poutu of Wellington. We were invited by Kristin O’Sullivan Peren to help develop her concept proposal; learning from the previous competition the Trust required a cost estimate, engineers report and a maintenance plan to support the artistic concept.
An excellent academic critique by Cassandra Fusco of the proposed artwork has recently been published in Junctures: The Journal for Thematic Dialogue (“a forum for trans-disciplinary discussion, analysis, and critique”). ‘Responsibilities, Reclamation and Recuperation – the Critical Constructions of Kristin O’Sullivan Peren’ positions the project within the context of O’Sullivan Peren’s body of work.
The defined site was a slither of land at the base of the escarpment cut off from public access by the main trunk line and state highway 1, but highly visible by land, air and sea approaches to the city. The artwork took the form of three islands to be constructed incrementally from building blocks of compressed plastic waste. The islands would grow at the same rate that plastic waste was produced:
The acknowledgement of this is highlighted by the collection of unsorted waste plastic – venturing into peoples lives to make them aware of this practice and process. On average every Wellingtonian generates 45kg of waste plastic each year, enough material to create 6 Byfusion blocks. Breath of Light will be constructed from up to 100,000 blocks formed with plastic artifacts that have been purchased, consumed and discarded by the residents the city of Wellington.
Breath of Light offers an opportunity to create a dynamic, above ground visualisation of the sheer volume of waste material that we bury in our landfill each year. The three islands are created from Byfusion blocks that condense and contain a waste product that fills land fills our land and clogs our waterways. Block by block Breath of Light is both an individual and collective response to current issues of consumption, waste and the environment. It will be constructed over the period of one year, capturing just 10% of Wellington’s plastic waste and communicating this to all who come in and out of the city
Breath of Light will use reclaimed plastic waste, lighting and an evolving ecology to enable a contemporary conversation and create a beacon for the greater Wellington community, creating three new islands visible to arriving travelers by car, train, boat and aeroplane. The artwork acknowledges the uplift of the seabed, twentieth century reclamation and the presence of the fault line, and recognises the tension between history and the drive for future change. The family of islands will be shaped from a combination of recyclable materials, maintenance-free lights and sustainable native plants.
At night, the sculpture will be transformed by a slow dancing display of light washing over the islands between the hills and the sea. Ground level LED lights, will create an ever-changing wash of colour on the islands, reinforcing the connection with the land, sky, earth and the community that live amongst and pass them.Sadly, shortly after the final proposals were submitted the project was put on indefinite hold. No winner was announced and the final proposals were never published.
Sadly, shortly after the final proposals were submitted the project was put on indefinite hold. No winner was announced and the final proposals were never published.