SCULPTURE BY THE SEA: 2016, Sydney Australia

SCULPTURE BY THE SEA: 2016, Sydney Australia

Infrastructures are the largely invisible substructures that organise our behaviour and are hidden behind, below and within visible structures. Infrastructure (Prototype 5 or P5) is the latest in a series of works that build on this idea. First impressions of my Infrastructure prototypes emphasize the vertical impulse; a densely packed urbanization or compression of space that seems to cause the eruption into the vertical planes of the High Rise. The structures are presented in different scales with details that appear to morph in and out of their host entities.  

Early variations on this theme were researched during my Artist Residency at the Fremantle Arts Centre (Western Australia), visitors to the FAC were encouraged to add components to the work. The success of this open collaboration with the public has informed the production of the subsequent infrastructure works.

Infrastructure (P5) will include a series of loose modular units strewn about the site at random to be placed and replaced on the sculpture by passers by. The structure is ambiguous enough to encourage the audience to grapple with tangible fragments of the narrative and respond intuitively, visitors are thus engaged in a fluid, shifting process of meaning production.

Infrastructure (P5) is loosely based on an allegory by Plato, ‘The Ship of Fools’ which “…depicts a vessel without a pilot, populated by human inhabitants who are deranged, frivolous, or oblivious, and seemingly ignorant of their course….” There is a timelessness to this tale of human folly – both in terms of the current state of the environment but also quite literally felt by most New Zealanders in light of the grounding and eventual destruction of the Container Ship “Rena” on Astrolabe reef near Tauranga in 2011.

From a castaway vantage point looking at the city, the density of it, the bigness of it, the momentum that is generated there, is in stark contrast to the reefs that protect her from the ocean. This is another layer of response to Plato’s allegory; rampaging growth and development has pride of place in the city, and inevitably touches the shores of the surrounding landscape. Looking across the Gulf literally keeps that force in perspective and Infrastructure P5 taps into this, as if humanity has spilled over the boundaries of the mainland and continued building in an insatiable quest for progress.



Oliver Stretton Pow - Artist | Sculptor - New Zealand