This project was initiated by City Gallery Wellington and is funded through the Wellington City Council's Lewis Glover Bequest, with support from Council's Public Art Panel, Massey University and Alison Bartley.
Wellington City Council's Arts and Culture portfolio leader, Councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer, says the Council is thrilled to be a major funder of this project. "It's great to see such impressive sculpture take shape in Glover Park and I think Shane's work is going to have wide public appeal. There is a sense of fun in Shane's work - to me it looks like a rocket taking off - but you can also appreciate the incredible degree of craftsmanship he has put into the design and building of it."
"McGrath's work is large scale, labour intensive, and adapts ideas of funfairs, playground architecture, helter-skelter, rocket-themed jungle-gyms - which were popular in parks during the 'Space Race' of the 50's and 60's - and craft that offer the possibility of spiritual ascension," says City Gallery Wellington curator Aaron Lister.
"Often public space doesn't change at the rate of the rest of the city; McGrath's work tests enduring ideas of congregation collective play and cultural fantasy,'' he continues.
"Having the opportunity to work on this scale is both hugely rewarding and challenging," McGrath says.
Working with recycled Australian jarrah hardwood, New Zealand matai for the cladding and New Zealand grown Oregon alder for the superstructure, McGrath's sculpture often uses recycled and treated timbers to make solid forms that occupy space, while also manifesting an incredible degree of craftsmanship.
"My hope is to provide people with a sense of escape from the nine-to-five world. The sculpture plays with ideas of taking off and liberation and gives visual form to some of those functions of the park as a retreat from the bustle of city life," says McGrath.
McGrath studied fine arts and film in Melbourne in the late 1990s, exhibited in artist-run spaces and the Melbourne International Film Festival. He holds a Masters in Fine Art from Massey University and was the inaugural DEBLYN artist in residence at Toi Pōneke Art Centre in 2010. Since then, he's been working on a range of arts projects, including set design for theatrical productions, working in art departments on children's television shows, and freelance illustrating for Learning Media and Huia Publishing - which led him to be commissioned to do a 40-page Māori language graphic novel.
This is his first public permanent sculptural commission.