Out of this world mapping

22 March 2018
Other Worlds Ruth Watson sm
Other Worlds. Image courtesy of the artist.

A new public sculpture by Dr Ruth Watson featuring a series of large globes, has been unveiled in central Wellington to coincide with the New Zealand Festival.

Entitled Other Worlds, the work comprises four dramatic reinterpretations of the planets Earth and Mars.

Watson, who is a Senior Lecturer at Elam School of Fine Arts, was commissioned by the Wellington Sculpture Trust to produce the artwork for their 4 Plinths Sculpture Award.

The commission, worth $40,000, was awarded to Watson’s project, beating dozens of other entries.

The internationally recognised artist, who works in a variety of mediums including photography, video and installation, is known for her work which re-orientates maps and mapping processes.

Because maps are taken as authoritative givens, Watson’s planetary models are as challenging as they are alluring. At 2000 millimetres in diameter, Other Worlds loom large, dwarfing the viewer with unfamiliar vistas which are both joyous and menacing. 

“Other World’s offers images of planets based on existing models derived from science, recent or long past”, says Watson. “For instance, one globe is based on a 17th century Dutch map of the world without water, another from satellite data of gravitational fields.”

With a slight nod to 1950s science fiction, this out of this world mapping is both playful, while also being an uneasy reminder that not all planets are as hospitable as our own.

Other Worlds is installed at Te Papa’s forecourt, where it will remain for up to two years.

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Miranda Playfair | Media Relations Adviser
The University of Auckland
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