18 Dec 2022

Deborah McCormick and SCAPE Public Art

From Standing Room Only, 12:16 pm on 18 December 2022

Since Standing Room Only started some of the biggest changes we've seen in attitudes towards art and artists has happened in Ōtautahi Christchurch.

How much artists contributed to the city's emotional recovery from the earthquakes through projects like Gap Filler, but also how many individual people created and shared their work.

Before the quakes, Neil Dawson's monumental sculpture The Challice in the Square was initially criticised, but within days of its unveiling it became an impromptu shrine for the New York victims of 9/11.

Back in 1998, the SCAPE Public Art started commissioning  large outdoor works by international and Kiwi sculptors and artists.   Some stayed but most of them were temporary.   Some attracted criticism but they certainly got people talking.

As SCAPE reaches its quarter century, its founder and Executive Director Deborah McCormick is standing down in March next year.

Deborah's last SCAPE will see her tick off one of her long held ambitions - to secure a permanent sculpture for Christchurch by Auckland-based artist Dr Brett Graham.

Lynn Freeman talks with Deborah and Brett, first asking Deborah to take us back to the lightbulb moment that led to SCAPE public art event.