Reuben Paterson’s The Golden Bearing at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Share a moment of magic and possibility under glittering golden leaves at The Golden Bearing exhibition, running through 30 January 2022 at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū.

A life-sized, hand-sculpted tree created by artist Reuben Paterson (Ngāti Rangitihi, Tūhourangi, Ngāi Tūhoe, Scottish) speaks of reality and illusion, the past and possibility, and references the mythology of trees as connectors between human and spiritual worlds. The shimmering gold of Paterson’s work symbolizes divine principles, wisdom and enlightenment.

Felicity Milburn, Lead Curator at the Gallery, says The Golden Bearing sits somewhere between fantasy and hyperrealism.

“It’s a golden tree growing indoors, so it is obviously artificial, but the artist’s careful inclusion of small details makes it unexpectedly convincing, from the knobbly undulations of the roots and trunk to the delicate leaves, which are light enough to move slightly in a breeze,” Ms Milburn says.

The Golden Bearing stands 4.5 metres high and was created by hand using more than 200 kilograms of fibreglass, gold paint and glitter. Based in Auckland, Paterson is supervising the installation of The Golden Bearing remotely via phone, email and video calls – a novel approach for the Gallery, but an obvious solution in a world living with COVID-19.

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