Lost in the air
Ana Iti, Ellyse Randrup, Gregory Kan and Sarah Maxey

Courtenay Place Park, Pōneke, early September to late November 2019

The Courtenay Place Park light boxes have been part of Pōneke Wellington’s public art landscape since 2008 and are designed to encourage people to reflect on this busy and diverse urban centre, even if just for a minute.

In his 2017 book The Language of Cities, author and director of London’s Design Museum Deyan Sudjic suggests that navigating a city is similar to exploring a library. The contents of library shelves only reveal themselves through random encounters, but categories and classifications give us the opportunity to explore it in a more purposeful way. This project brings together four makers working under different ‘classifications’, creating two purposeful encounters by way of collaboration — Wellington city’s unique connection between cityscape and creativity.

While Ana Iti works as a visual artist, she often brings text into her work in order to explore narrative. For one side of the light boxes, she tells the story of Waimapihi, a bubbling awa buried below the city — lost but not forgotten. Wellington emerging designer (currently based in Europe) Ellyse Randrup delicately illuminates this story with a new typeface based on Iti’s text that is gradually etched away under the surface of the stream’s misty memory.

On the other side of the boxes, Gregory Kan has written in prose about Wellington in a way that emotively captures this complicated, bustling and populated urban environment. Kan’s text touches on the way in which the people pass each other by as the wind whips up around them, creating so many thoughts and feelings to be lost in the air and in the moment. Designer Sarah Maxey recognises this with eight brooding photographic interventions overlaid with cyanotypes taken just around the corner on Cuba Street, illustrating a possible aesthetic for Kan’s words to live within the light boxes.

With sixteen faces on the light boxes, the two very different collaborations intermingle and offset one another, offering passersby new thoughts on the city from four creative locals as well as sixteen individual ways to view the works. With each practitioner bringing their own unique and enduring relationship with the city to their collaborations, viewers will have the opportunity to see the city in a new way, through literature, art and graphic design — three staple ‘classifications’ or practices that are integral to the way in which Wellingtonians navigate the creative fabric of the city.

Special thanks to Meredith Robertshawe, Eve Amstrong and Abbey Signs & Services Wellington for all your work.