News | 22 February 2022
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Ben Pearce's Four Plinths project unveiled

The Wellington Sculpture Trust reveals its latest temporary sculpture on the four plinths that border the Te Papa forecourt and the waterfront.

Four plinths by Ben Pearce image courtesy of Wellington Sculpture Trust

Four plinths by Ben Pearce image courtesy of Wellington Sculpture Trust

Artist Ben Pearce is the winner of the inaugural Collin Post 4 Plinths Project award. Although Ben is the eighth artist, he is the first to receive the award under a new commemorative partnership with the Post family and the increased $50,000 award. 

Ben’s work, #Paper Pals Aotearoa, is four larger than life origami-like animals which sit on each of the plinths.

Ben said of his work: “Thinking upon recent times and the heavy burdens we have carried as a species I felt a light hearted, humorous, gentle, playful, all-age approach would suit this project – a work to make people smile.

“The work also has other layers of meaning in today’ environment. Hopefully it will prompt discussions around humankind’s treatment of wild life and about relationships between continents, which is why I have included animals from different countries.  I want to allude to a commonality between cultures; we all need to co-exist with other life forms.
“We are yet to find that balance with nature. Institutions like Te Papa are educators and signals of our search to understand the natural world around us.
“I’m drawn to the origami art-form from a sculptural angle and have referenced it in my work before. I love how it is a demo¬cratic craft which anyone can learn and make at no cost: there is a magic to it,” Ben said. 

The Wellington Sculpture Trust selected the work from a wide range of submissions, for the Collin Post 4 Plinths Award of $50,000, an increase of $10,000 in award money.

Sue Elliott, chair of the Trust, said: “The Trustees and our arts advisers were drawn to the joyful nature of this work after the dark times New Zealand has experienced recently. The animals from different continents showcasing how these creations can bring the world and other cultures to us while we can no longer explore the world.”

“Ben’s work often explores memory and reconciles it with a recent and common ‘ancestor’ to us all: childhood. These origami figures play to this love of the craft of origami and the figures that we have all enjoyed in our childhoods,” Sue said.

Ben is a sculptor based in the Hawkes Bay and works with wood, stone, metal and found objects. He graduated a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2003, majoring at Whanganui Quay School of Fine Arts and has exhibited regularly in New Zealand and Australia since. 

Ben Pearce said on receipt of the award: “I'm both excited and honoured to receive this award and be able to bring these sculptures to life via the incredible support of WST and the Post family grant. 

“Having work in the public space is going to be interesting, it won't be mine anymore; people will respond in ways I can't predict. That's the part I'm looking forward to! " Ben said.

The sculpture is the eighth in the 4 Plinths award series which has now been running for 15 years. Each work remains on site for a maximum of two years. 

Sue Elliott said: “The aim of the project is, through temporary works, to show-case sculptural practice; provide a site that provides maximum engagement for the public; and a platform both figuratively and literally for artists to work in a public space.

“This project enables our artists to take a big step into the realm of the complexities that come with large-scale public works of art in a robust environment. 

“A new development, however, is that Ben with NFT Inc will be transforming the work into a limited run of NFT art. It may well be the first sculpture in New Zealand to be immortalised in this new technology.

“When Ben asked us about the possibility, the Trust thought one of our temporary works was a perfect way to put a toe in this water, and provide an ongoing life for this work in the digital world following its two-year term on Wellington’s waterfront. 

“Ownership of the Collin Post 4 Plinths Project works remains with the artist. 

“Our concept for the site is modelled on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in London, which is also a revolving home for temporary works. It is our aim to grow this event and make it as internationally significant - a southern hemisphere version of the Fourth Plinth,” she said.

The new partnership with the Post family celebrates and commemorates the late Collin Post and his love of the arts, in particular sculpture. 

Sue Elliott said today: “Collin was a stalwart of the Trust for many years. He was a true ‘friend’ and always showed a great deal of interest in our projects and events, and could be relied upon to be there to support us and our artists. We were very saddened by his sudden passing in September 2019.”

Charles Post, Collin’s son says: “Collin’s family felt the 4 Plinths project was a fitting way to celebrate the history of his patronage, and a good way of creating an enduring legacy of ongoing support for sculptural art in Wellington. This project enables that patronage to remain dynamic with the evolving showcase of sculpture on the 4 plinths, and in particular support emerging and mid-career artists to make the leap into large-scale public art works.”

“Dad was a fervent supporter of the Sculpture Trust and he strongly believed in the value of art and its contribution to the city. Dad supported a wide range of arts in Wellington, but his passion was sculptural art. Both my sister Emma and I share this support and were delighted to honour our father in this way,” Charles said.