A Garden by Paul Cullen has recently opened on the Sculpture Terrace’s Outer Terrace. The project draws on Paul’s interest in the history and practice of garden design and also his ongoing interest in the methods and models of science.
The work was installed over a two week period beginning with some skilled help from a blocklayer who came with his concrete mixer to lay two low block walls.
From those foundational parts that echo the lines of the architecture, the rest of the installation was arranged. The two-level blue platform, yellow trestle and the lamp were incorporated into the block walls.
The relationship of the trestle, platforms and lamp to the walls, the nature of the walls as building materials and the relationship of the walls to the architecture makes these two parts of A Garden the most fixed or permanent aspects of the installation.
The other elements – the metal tables and benches and the manufactured ornamental rocks – are predominantly at angles to the architecture and to each other. Their placement is deliberately scattered about the space to give interesting angles to view and to guide visitors movement within the terrace space.
Working with space is a key aspect of garden design. For one there is the concept of the borrowed view where gardeners work with the lansdscape outside of the garden area, incorporating it into the view to enlarge the garden and enhance it. Garden designers also work with elements within the confines of the garden to frame the borrowed view and to create possibilities for negotiating the space of the garden itself.
By now you will have noticed that this is a garden without plants. Paul’s choice to keep this vegetation free may not be a surprise to those who are familiar with his outdoor works. His interest lies more in the type of scientific observational installation often found in public gardens such as botanic gardens, or rooftop gardens. As seen in this recent project Weather Stations for Sculpture on the Gulf.
Taking the Outer Terrace at its face value as an observation point six stories up overlooking the harbour, Paul has responded to the site as an ideal place to meausure and observe. However, whether the objects in A Garden might be made for measuring, and if so just what they might measure, is left completely unclear.
A Garden responds to the location by drawing in the common uses for such sites – rooftop gardens and observation decks. Paul draws these references into the work visually with the objects and their placement to make a garden space that is an ideal place for observation and contemplation.
If you’d like to see more of Paul’s work, he has work currently on show at the Waikato Museum and at Jane Sanders, Art Agent in Auckland.