Floating art installed at vacant site

PUBLIC ART: Joanna Langford's The High Country on display on the corner of Montreal St and Kilmore St.
PUBLIC ART: Joanna Langford's The High Country on display on the corner of Montreal St and Kilmore St.

After twice being foiled by earthquakes and sitting in a warehouse for over a year, a "floating artwork" has finally been installed in Christchurch. 

Joanna Langford's The High Country was commissioned by SCAPE, which installs contemporary art in public places around Christchurch, for its Christchurch Biennial of Art in Public Space in October 2010. 

When the September 2010 quake hit, the installation was rescheduled for March 2011.

The February 2011 earthquake put the planned inner-city location for the artwork out of bounds, so Langford's work was put in an engineering workroom, where it has sat since.   

The artwork, an aerial utopian city installation that appears to be floating above its urban surroundings, has finally been installed on a newly vacant site on the corner of Montreal and Kilmore streets.

Installed atop a 10-metre crane tower on a busy commuter route, the work uses found and recycled materials to create an image of lush pastures surrounding an illuminated model city.  

The work is made up of plastic silage wrap, along with over 300 recycled plastic milk bottles lit with LED lights. 

Langford said she attempted to "transverse a whimsical city environment" with The High Country.

"In late 2010 it was envisioned as a comment on urbanism, waste and regeneration,'' she said. 

''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 on to the peaceful tree-lined expanse of Cranmer Square and in stark contrast to the surrounding gap sites, vacant lots and demolition."

SCAPE Public Arts director Deborah McCormick said the installation of the artwork was important, not just because it was an exciting new work, but also because it was so long in the planning.

"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," she said.

The High Country is a temporary installation and will be on the site until January. 

McCormick encouraged people to visit after dark, when it would be illuminated.

SCAPE Public Art will install two further artworks before the end of the year. 

Rachael Dewhirst's Resene Art in the Streets Scape Christchurch Murals project will be installed in the Re:Start mall in this month, and Mexican Hector Zamora's Muegano will be installed in the lake next to the Botanic Gardens information centre next month.

The Press