Leen van Duin presents Murray Swan with his People's Choice Award Leen van Duin presents Murray Swan with his People's Choice Award CREDIT: Thornton Communications Limited
Murray Swan & Sculpture Temple of Gliese Murray Swan & Sculpture Temple of Gliese CREDIT: Thornton Communications Limited

Space the Final Frontier for Aircraft Engineer Turned Award-Winning Artist

Monday 20 June 2011, 1:06PM
By Thornton Communications Limited


The work of Auckland artist Murray Swan has just been recognised, as he is awarded the coveted People’s Choice Award for his sculpture, Temple of Gliese, a piece inspired by his interest in space and background in aircraft engineering.

Temple of Gliese was one of 30 works displayed at recent exhibition, E:Scape Sculpture in the Landscape 2011 curated by Sarah Anderson and sited at The Sculpture Park @ Waitakaruru Arboretum, in the Waikato’s Scotsman Valley. The exhibition attracted more than 2,000 visitors, about half of whom voted for the coveted People’s Choice Award.

Swan’s award-winning sculpture pays tribute to humankind’s fascination with life on other planets and the recent discovery of the planet Gliese 581d. The work is constructed from stainless steel, copper carbon fibre, fibre glass, epoxy resin, titanium and brass; materials Swan is accustomed to working with, after a 34 year long career in the aircraft engineering industry.

Having come to art later in life, in his fifties, the People’s Choice Award is a lucky break for Swan who has exhibited at the Park many times before, but never been recognised in this way. Swan receives $1,000 in prize money for his winning sculpture. In accepting his People’s Choice Award at The Sculpture Park today, Swan said how delighted he was to receive the Award and to know that his sculpture was so popular with visitors to the Park.

Exhibition Curator, Sarah Anderson said “Temple of Gliese explores the human fascination with the possibility of life forms or conditions similar to our own existing in the cosmos somewhere. Murray Swan has created an intimate, delicate work that tells this story using ‘space age’ metals and techniques. Contained in a temple like form suggestive of the connection between otherworldliness and space exploration; the work clearly ‘speaks’ to many as it has received the peoples’ vote by winning this year’s award. This is a piece that sits beautifully in the landscape picking up and playing with the light reflected off it and creating its own little ‘arena of magic.’ ”

The People’s Choice Award for E:Scape: Sculpture in the Landscape 2011 is proudly sponsored by Calder & Lawson House of Travel, the official agent for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Airways service. Leen van Duin, Director of Orbit Corporate Travel, a division of Calder & Lawson House of Travel, extended congratulations to Murray Swan. “Calder & Lawson is pleased to have provided support for the People’s Choice Award and we are delighted that so many people were able to enjoy Mr. Swan’s exquisite sculpture and the exhibition. The Temple of Gliese reminds us that travel and exploration does not have to be uniquely earthbound and we may be sending travellers to space in the not-too-distant future,” said van Duin.

The Waikato Sculpture Trust was formed in May 2007 to support emerging and established artists to display their sculpture in an environment unique within New Zealand. Since its investiture the Trust has enabled a diverse audience to enjoy sculpture in a natural setting, raising the profile of contemporary sculpture and providing artists with an opportunity to use the variety of landscapes within a dedicated sculpture park to display their work.

The Waikato Sculpture Trust’s next exhibition at the Park is REFRACTION: Outdoor Glass Sculpture Exhibition to be curated by Karl Chitham and running in October and November 2011.