Art & creativity, Things to do  |  29 Oct 2021

A 200 kilogram golden tree was this week installed remotely by artist Reuben Paterson at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū.

The Golden Bearing will host storytelling sessions for children and create “something a bit magical for visitors,” says Lead Curator Felicity Milburn.

In a sign of the times, the tree even has its own Instagram hashtag - #glittertree

Mr Paterson is based in Auckland which is currently under Level 3 Covid restrictions so he was kept busy supervising the instillation of his 2013 work via phone, email and video calls this week.

A golden tree of no particular species, the work stands 4.5 metres high and was created by hand using fibreglass, gold paint and glitter.

Ms Milburn says the work sits somewhere between fantasy and hyperrealism.

“It’s a golden tree growing indoors so it’s obviously artificial but the 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.”

She says Mr Paterson often explores the tension between what’s natural and what’s constructed in his work and The Golden Bearing is no exception. 

 “The use of glitter will conjure up showbiz for some, but it’s also an effect found throughout nature – in the sparkle of wet sand, or the glistening frost on winter grass.”

Born in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland in 1973, Reuben Paterson is best known for working with glitter and his paintings, sculptures and time-based work often incorporate Maori concepts and motifs and references to the natural world.

Under-the-tree storytelling sessions and other events will take place over the duration of the exhibition. Keep an eye on the Gallery website for details.