Source: Auckland Council
Washed with symbolic violet light, an elegant new spherical public artwork by Auckland-based artist Lang Ea will soon take its place in Milford Reserve. It is Auckland Council’s newest addition to the city’s 400 strong regionwide collection.
The footing of the sculpture has been designed to give the appearance the sphere is weightless as if floating in the park.
Entitled ‘Beacon’, the artist says: “This sculpture symbolises and reflects the significant and courageous achievements of the suffragettes more than a century ago and lights the way for women in the present and future.”
The striking work in polished stainless steel is 2.5 metres in diameter. It has the symbol of a violet camellia at its centre. The colour violet was adopted by suffrage petitioners to represent dignity and self-respect. Soft violet light washes over at night, speaking to contemporary themes of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Lang cites a poignant quote by Kate Sheppard in her fight for equal recognition of women in New Zealand in the late 1800s: “We are tired of having a ‘sphere’ doled out to us, and of being told that anything outside that sphere is ‘unwomanly’.” This sentiment forms part of the inspiration for Lang’s Beacon.
“You are how you see yourself,” was her father’s advice when Lang left home for the first time to study Architecture and Design at Victoria University in Wellington.
Lang’s family had fled Cambodia after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime and after spending three years in various Thailand refugee camps, immigrated to New Zealand in 1982 when she was eight years old.
In Lang’s arts practice, she draws on her experience of war as a child and conveys the concept of not ‘unseeing’ the aspects of war we find confronting.
Lang feels privileged to have grown up in New Zealand believing and knowing she could do anything. However, she also feels it is imperative she never forgets her father’s words. With Beacon, she hopes women and girls will look in the mirrored surface and be proud of the person reflected back.
Beacon is located next to the Milford-Takapuna walking track in a vibrant, much-used community space, and the new work of public art is supported by Devonport-Takapuna Local Board.
Emily Trent, public art manager for Auckland Council says: “Our commitment is always to bring inspiring public art to our public spaces in Auckland. We commission art that is thought-provoking, vibrant and challenging. Lang has brought us a beautiful work which delivers on all levels.”
Lang Ea is an Auckland-based multi-media artist whose artworks are exhibited and collected locally and internationally. She has been a finalist in numerous national and international awards including the prestigious annual Wallace Art Awards. She’s been selected for a number of international artists’ residencies.
Once Lang had designed Beacon, engineering expertise was brought in.
Taranaki-based company Global Stainless were engaged to make the artwork. With experience fabricating and polishing large stainless steel works of art, they ensured the joined weld seams in Beacon were invisible in the finished polished work.