Wellington Sculpture Trust;
Wellington City Council,
and The Katherine Mansfield Society.
Lambton Quay, Wellington. 2011-2013.
The brief from Wellington Sculpture Trust required the sculpture celebrate the life and literary heritage of Katherine Mansfield.
I decided to make an exception to my 30 year sculpture practice and proposed a figurative Artwork, a powerful warrior figure, wrapped in a close fitting garment of quotations.
Woman of Words is entirely created from words and phrases selected from Katherine Mansfield's short stories, diaries and journals to present information about the writer, the woman and her New Zealand childhood.
A major challenge was to create soft curving folds of fabric from stainless steel sheet, with lines of laser cut quotations arranged by content to accentuate the shape and movement of the sculpture, enhance the form and allude to contours of the land of which Katherine Mansfield wrote extensively.
The sculpture is positioned head turned and looking back along Lambton Quay, the former shoreline of Wellington's Harbour, referring to Mansfield's intense reflection on past events.
The right arm outstretched to offer lines of words including 'this is not a letter but my arms about you for a brief moment; the sleeve lengths refers to 'The Dressmaker' and the wish expressed for 'romantic rather long, pointed sleeves'. Mansfield's bobbed hairstyle is created from narrow laser cut shopping lists found in her 1922 journal.
Elegant musicians' hands reference Mansfield's early years as a cellist. The face/ mask refers to her letter to Sylvia Payne:
'Don't lower your mask unless you have another mask prepared beneath, as terrible as you like- but a mask.'
The sculpture becomes a lantern of words at night; lit from within the words read in silhouette.
Materials: Hands and Mask were cast (using recycled 316 stainless steel drop-outs).
Figure entirely Marine grade laser cut sheet.
Dimensions: Nominally 3400 in height x 1200 x 2.5mm sheet steel.