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Title

The English Channel

2015


Artist

Michael Parekowhai

New Zealand

1968 -


About

Larger than life and created from highly polished steel, Michael Parekowhai’s The English Channel is an arresting sculptural presence. The figure, with flowing topcoat and ponytail, is the British navigator Captain James Cook. But this is not Cook as he is seen in the many historical monuments that bear his name – or in the famous 1776 portrait painting by Nathaniel Dance which is one inspiration for this sculpture. Resting on a sculptor’s working table with his feet suspended above ground, this Cook seems to be reflecting on his legacy in the contemporary world. At the same time, his dazzling surface collects the reflection of everything around it – including viewers looking at it. Despite the sculpture’s considerable height and weight, this mirror-like surface lends The English Channel a slippery and elusive presence, as if to suggest how perceptions shift depending on where one is standing. This charged relationship with place was heightened, in the sculpture’s debut presentation in Sydney, by its physical location within the Gallery, in front of windows overlooking the harbour that Cook sailed past in 1770. The result is a monument of a very contemporary kind – not a full stop marking the end of a story but a question mark inviting response and reflection.


Details


Date

2015


Media category

Sculpture


Materials used

stainless steel


Edition

2/3


Dimensions

257.0 x 166.0 x 158.0 cm


Credit

Purchased with funds provided by Peter Weiss AO 2016


Accession number

432.2016


Artist information

Michael Parekowhai

Works in the collection

14


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history


  • Michael Parekowhai, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 09 Mar 2017–16 Nov 2017


Referenced in 1 publication

Bibliography


Maud Page, Michael Parekowhai: The promised land, 'On the home front', pg.17-28, Brisbane, 2015, front cover (colour illus., detail), 21 and 24 (colour illus., detail).