Artist Ben Pearce is the first prize winner of the Collin Post 4 Plinths project. Although Ben is the eighth performer, he is the first to receive the award as part of a new memorial partnership with the Post family and the prize increased by $50,000.
Ben’s artwork, #Paper Pals Aotearoa, is made up of four larger-than-life origami-like animals that rest on each of the plinths.
Ben said of his work, “Thinking about recent times and the heavy burdens we have carried as a species, I felt that a lighthearted, humorous, sweet, playful, and for all ages would be suitable for this project – a job to make people smile.
“Work also has other layers of meaning in today’s environment. I hope this will spark some discussion about humanity’s treatment of wildlife and the relationship between continents, which is why I’ve included animals from different countries. I want to allude to a commonality between cultures; we all need to co-exist with other life forms.
“We still have to find that balance with nature. Institutions like Te Papa are educators and signals of our search to understand the natural world around us.
“I am drawn to the art form of origami from a sculptural angle and have referenced it in my work before. I love that it’s a democratic craft that anyone can learn and make for free: there’s magic in that,” Ben said.
The Wellington Sculpture Trust selected the work from a wide range of submissions, for the Collin Post 4 Plinths Prize of $50,000, a $10,000 increase in price.
Sue Elliott, Chair of the Trust, said: “Trustees and our artistic advisers have been drawn to the joyful nature of this work after the dark times New Zealand has experienced recently. Animals from different continents show how these creations can bring the world and other cultures to us when we can no longer explore the world.
“Ben’s work often explores memory and reconciles it with a recent ‘ancestor’ common to all of us: childhood. These origami figurines play on that love of origami art and figurines that we all enjoyed as children,” Sue said.
Ben is a sculptor based in Hawkes Bay and works with wood, stone, metal and found objects. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2003, majoring at the Whanganui Quay School of Fine Arts and has since exhibited regularly in New Zealand and Australia.
Ben Pearce said upon receiving the award, “I am both thrilled and honored to receive this award and to be able to bring these sculptures to life through the incredible support of WST and the Post Family Grant.
“Having a job in the public space will be interesting, it won’t be mine anymore; people will react in ways that I cannot predict. This is the part I’m looking forward to! ‘ said Ben.
The sculpture is the eighth in the 4 Plinths award series which has now run for 15 years. Each work remains on site for a maximum of two years.
Sue Elliott said: “The aim of the project is, through temporary works, to showcase sculptural practice; provide a site that provides maximum engagement for the audience; and both a figurative and literal platform for artists to work in a public space.
“This project allows our artists to take a big step into the realm of the complexities that come with large-scale public works of art in a robust environment.
“A new development, however, is that Ben with NFT Inc will turn the work into a limited series of NFT art. It may well be the first sculpture in New Zealand to be immortalized in this new technology.
“When Ben asked us about the possibility, the Trust thought one of our temporary works was a perfect way to put a foot in the water and give continued life to this work in the digital world after his two-year tenure on Wellington’s waterfront.
“Ownership of the works in the Collin Post 4 Plinths project remains with the artist.
“Our concept for the site is inspired by the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in London, which is also a rotating house for temporary works. Our goal is to grow this event and make it as important internationally – a Southern Hemisphere version of the fourth pedestal,” she said.
The new partnership with the Post family celebrates and commemorates the late Collin Post and his love of the arts, especially sculpture.
Sue Elliott said today: “Collin has been a mainstay of the Trust for many years. He was a true “friend” and always showed great interest in our projects and events, and could be counted on to be there to support us and our artists. We were very saddened by his sudden passing in September 2019.”
Charles Post, Collin’s son, said, “Collin’s family felt the 4 Plinths project was a fitting way to celebrate his patronage history and a good way to create a lasting legacy of continued support for art. sculpture in Wellington. This project allows this patronage to remain dynamic with the evolving showcase of sculpture on the 4 bases, and in particular to support emerging and mid-career artists to make the leap towards large-scale public works of art.
“Dad was a strong supporter of the Sculpture Trust and a firm believer in the value of art and its contribution to the city. Dad supported a wide range of art in Wellington, but his passion was sculptural art. My sister Emma and I share this support and are thrilled to honor our father in this way,” Charles said.