Monday 22 September 2008

Sailing away

Christchurch might be laid out in an impeccably logical grid pattern, but that doesn't stop me from getting horribly disoriented. As coping mechanism, I've learnt to use the the city's ample supply of pointy public sculptures as a navigational aid. The latest commission, Regan Gentry's Flour Power, proved a useful addition, erected just in time for the opening of this year's Scape Biennial.

In an event that leaned more towards the subtle than the spectacular, the work that made the strongest impression on me was James Oram's project in Cranmer Square.* His small sailing boat suspended from a crane is a lovely mix of simplicity, effort and daring - possibly too much so, as when I revisited the work yesterday morning the boat was grounded.

On my first visit to Cranmer Square I was spotted by an older lady who announced herself as the wife of the man who owns the crane, and offered to introduce Mr Crane, who was just catching up. My conversation with Mr & Mrs Crane was all that the Scape organisers could have wished for - a healthy debate over what counts as art these days.

Signs of healthy debate were also apparent in the courtyard outside the Christchurch Art Gallery, with local artist Sam Mahon's protest work.

*Unfortunately I tossed all the handouts before coming home, and the title & location of this work don't currently appear on the Scape website - apologies to Oram for the factual lapses.

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