After twenty-five years, SCAPE Public Art’s Executive Director, Deborah McCormick, is passing on the duties and responsibilities of the organisation’s annual programme, events and commissions for contemporary public art. McCormick departs with an impressive legacy on many levels, including an inventory of 250 public works of art over 25 years.
SCAPE’s newly appointed Executive Director, Richard Aindow, takes up the position with a background and involvement over a decade of working with a range of arts disciplines. This encompassed a shift from Nelson to Wellington in 2010 and the establishment of FishHead, a Wellington-based magazine that covered all aspects of contemporary art; theatre, literature, music, cinema, galleries and current affairs. This was followed by his seven-year tenure as General Manager of New Zealand’s longest-running contemporary dance company, Footnote New Zealand Dance, when founder and director, Deirdre Tarrant, stepped down from the role.
He notes that the management of SCAPE Public Art’s agenda and its infrastructures share commonalities with all arts organisations. ‘Everything needs to be in the right place to support your artists, so delivering the vision and mission for your organisation is critical. There is a ‘newness’ to being with SCAPE, of course, learning of its history and the practicalities of delivering public art. The organisation’s intersection of art and industry is still strong - and in 2023 there is also ‘the new’ with the appointment and transition to Auckland-based Tyson Campbell as SCAPE’s 2023 – 2025 managing curator.’
‘I am mindful we pay attention to what has been, but new people and new energies means there will be new ideas, and we need to pay attention to the strengths of art and industry. There is an impressive amount of hustle that has to happen for its delivery - and the hustle is critical. I am also interested in the way we support the artists we work with. There is a keenness for SCAPE to connect with artists and for us to connect people to these artists, their knowledge and understanding.’
Which existing public art works from SCAPE have you seen that have captured your interest to date? ‘There are permanent works across the city: I love Antony Gormley’s STAY, in the Arts Centre and Avon River, and I have an immediate affinity for Brett Graham’s (Ngāti Korokī Kahukura), Erratic, SCAPE’s most recent permanent work, which was unveiled in March. Mischa Kuball’s Solidarity Grid is a wonderful discovery and also Eddie Clemens, Cognitive Reorientation, from the 2022 Season.’
‘All of the artists invited to participate in the 2023 programme came to Ōtautahi in the last week of May and walked around the route for SCAPE’s season programme and they will all be responding with new works for specific sites. Our three-year thematic programme begins this November with ‘The Gift’ as its theme, promising rich territory to be explored.’
DETAILS: SCAPE Public Art Season 2023: Saturday 25 November 2023 to Saturday 17 February 2024
IMAGE: Eddie Clemens, Cognitive Reorientation, 2022, image courtesy of the artist