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©Ashley Cox & David Cross 2011

Lure: A Public Sculpture Proposal for the Dowse Forecourt Redevelopment

Developed by Ashley Cox and Artist David Cross for E Tu Awakairangi Hutt Public Art Trust

Lure is a public sculpture that operates across a number of visual and spatial registers incorporating the unique nature of the commission site. The contemporary architecture of the Dowse Museum, the modernist buildings in proximity, and, crucially, the natural spring that feeds the site, are all key components that inform our ideas for the sculpture. Like this unique cluster of buildings and features, Lure is concerned to capture a contemporary sense of linearity, colour and transformation over time. The sculpture consists of a suite of tall cylindrical components each with a coloured sphere located inside a sealed water tank in the top of the structure.  Fundamental to the art experience is the premise that not simply are these forms a suite of objects to be contemplated in the plaza, but they are simultaneously, a machine to be directly and playfully engaged with.

The elegant forms of the sculpture that mix striking colour with a simple cylindrical shape, function in part to draw the audience into a close-up encounter- to ‘lure’ them towards the work itself. At this point of proximity, an interior space is revealed at the base of each structure. These spaces-two in each cylinder- signal an obvious entranceway and beckon the audience member to satiate a curiosity of what might be inside. A crucial shift is thus enacted whereby the audience identify the possibility of entering inside the work to experience its inner workings.

Upon entering the interior, the work takes on both a different scale and tenor. Depending on which side of the structure one enters from, the audience experience either a mechanical lever with a handle on one side, or a drinking fountain on the other. A paradox is thus established as to what the lever actually does and relatedly, why there is a water fountain inside the structure. The strangeness of these features and their relationship to one other are a fundamental feature of Lure as they create an elusive fantastical quality both surreal and perplexing. Crucially, the paradox can only be resolved by making the decision to pull the lever, the consequences of which are delightfully unknown.

The act of pulling the lever sets in train an immediate process that cannot be seen by the audience member. They can only hear and feel the consequence of their decision as the sculpture begins to transform and the sound of rushing water becomes apparent. Faced with no other potential course of action in the chamber, the audience member will be forced to leave and try and visualise externally what impact their action, if any, has on the sculpture. It is at this point that they become aware of two things if they walk around the outside of the structure: one that they have altered the positioning of the coloured ball, and two that their activity has generated water emanating from the fountain.