In testament to artist Joanna Langford’s tenacity and commitment, her artwork The High Country was installed in Christchurch this week.
Located on a newly vacant site on the corner of Montreal and Kilmore Streets, the artwork is an aerial utopian city installation that appears to be floating above its urban surroundings. Installed atop a ten metre high crane tower on a busy commuter route, the fanciful work utilises existing found and recycled materials to create an image of lush pastures surrounding an illuminated model city.
The High Country was commissioned for the 6th SCAPE Christchurch Biennial of Art in Public Space in October 2010. Foiled by the September 2010 earthquake, it was re-scheduled for installation in early 2011. The February 2011 earthquake put the planned inner-city location for the artwork out-of-bounds, and the artwork has been sitting, waiting, in an engineering workroom since that time. In early 2012, Joanna injured her wrists, once again delaying the installation of the work.
Deborah McCormick, Director of SCAPE Public Arts says “The installation of this artwork has been important to Joanna and the SCAPE team, not just because it is an exciting new work, but also because we have been able to deliver something that we planned so long ago. For us we’re not only conveying Joanna’s messages about urbanism and recycling, but we also have a feeling of achievement and victory over adversity.”
The High Country is representative of Joanna’s recent body of work, which can be identified by its spontaneity and reuse and repurposing of found and often overlooked items. The work utilises some of the 320,000 kilometres (nearly 8 x the circumference of the Earth) of plastic silage wrap disposed of every year, along with over 300 recycled plastic milk bottles lit with LED lights. Her seemingly ethereal works often appear to float, and visitors to Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu may remember her work Up from the plainlands which sat at the top of the Gallery staircase in 2009.
Langford says “In The High Country I wanted to produce a whimsical city environment. In late 2010 it was envisioned as a comment on urbanism, waste, and regeneration. Now, with Christchurch having changed so much with the earthquakes, I think that it says even more than it could have in the past; with lines of traffic flowing past it, facing onto the peaceful tree-lined expanse of Cranmer Square and in stark contrast to the surrounding gap sites, vacant lots and demolition.”
Anthony Leighs, Managing Director of Leighs Construction who are the major sponsor of The High Country says “Leighs Construction are pleased to be able to support the positive work that SCAPE Public Art are doing in the central city. Joanna’s work has been a long time in coming, but we’re delighted to see if finally installed in this new high-profile location.”
The High Country is a temporary installation and will be located on the corner of Kilmore and Montreal Streets until January 2013. It is free-to-view and SCAPE encourage people to visit after dark when it will be fully illuminated.
SCAPE Public Art will be installing two further artworks before the end of 2012. Rachael Dewhirst’s Resene Art in the Streets Scape Christchurch Murals project will be installed in Re:Start in November, and Mexican Hector Zamora’s Muegano will be installed in the lake next to the Botanic Gardens Information Centre in December.
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