Design for flight inspires new building sculpture

News News & events

17 Aug 2015

CPIT's new Engineering and Architectural Studies facility will feature an artwork based on one of the natural world's most incredible structures – the feather.

Prominent New Zealand artist Niki Hastings-McFall was inspired by the function of the new building and the building's name, Kahukura, which refers to a chiefly cloak made of feathers, a rainbow and the ancestor of the Cashmere Hills, which the building looks towards.

"Because this work is to be positioned in a facility dedicated to architecture and engineering I wanted to create work that referred to the construction, design, structure and incredible natural engineering of the feather itself as opposed to a more literal representation," Hastings-McFall said.

The artwork, named Hope Fully Fledged, will be very visible, suspended high in the building's atrium above a wide, central stairway. The design will play with light, shadow and colour.

Hastings-McFall has also associated the possibility of flight with hope; she drew further inspiration from poet Emily Dickinson who wrote;

"Hope" is the thing with feathers-

That perches in the soul.

"In Emily Dickinson's poem, feathers symbolise the feeling of hope. Hope, just like education, allows people to break free, to fly away to new beginnings. Education and the pursuit of knowledge confer hope and allow our dreams reality."

With work in collections of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa TongarewaAuckland Art GalleryThe Dowse Art MuseumQueensland Gallery of Modern Art and the British Museum, Hastings-McFall has been credited with helping to bring contemporary Pacific art to national prominence and international acceptance.

Playing with light and colour; Niki Hasting-McFall's artwork for CPIT, Hope Fully Fledged, is inspired by the new Engineering and Architectural Studies building and the idea that education brings hope and new beginnings. The final artwork will have 12 acrylic feathers similar to this prototype.   

Hastings-McFall's latest work will complement the three-storey, 6,500m2 Kahukura building designed by Jasmax to provide an inspirational environment for CPIT's student architectural designers, engineers, interior designers and quantity surveyors.

Kahukura will cater for around 1000 people and is scheduled for completion in late 2016.

The feather-inspired sculpture for Kahukura will not be the only new major artwork at CPIT. The commission, by the CPIT Artwork Collection Committee, is part of an overarching programme of artistic enrichment included in the Campus Master Plan programme of rebuilding and refurbishment CPIT's campuses.

CPIT's focus on arts has caught the attention of the arts community. Christchurch Art Gallery Senior Curator Lara Strongman says the new artworks will contribute to Christchurch.

"CPIT is to be commended for initiating this far-sighted series of public art commissions. I know there is great interest in the wider community, and considerable goodwill generated from the creative sector towards CPIT. I am really looking forward to seeing the finished works, and am confident they'll make a significant contribution to the culture of the city," she said.