Diving board

  • Maree Horner b.1951
Diving board


Diving board


Production Date 1974-1998
Collection(s) Collection Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth
Accession Number 98/3
Media Mixed media
Measurements 1400 x 1480 x 4370mm (H x W x D)


Maree Horner’s Diving Board, first made in 1974, was resurrected in 1998 for the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery’s landmark ‘post object art’ exhibition Action Replay. Like much post object art, Horner’s work confronts the gulf between visual and physical participation, between seeing and doing. With its powerful evocation of action, it focuses on the physical body of the viewer.

The proportions and material presence of Diving Board have been designed to interact physically with the viewer’s body. The board angles out into space at about chest or neck height. At this depth, a person standing in water would be near submersion. The diving board is, oddly, covered in rough hessian which is a surface definitely unpleasant on bare feet. A strip of hessian leads, red carpet-like, up the disproportionately large concrete steps to the diving board. Horner sets up a series of textural oppositions — abrasive hessian; cold, smooth glass; and dense concrete — which evoke tactile sensation. The invitation is there to step up onto the diving board, to spring athletically into the waiting pool, but this idea is made absurd by the bizarre construction of both board and pool. The diving board is clearly structurally unsound. The pool is tiny, made of fragile glass and contains only an imitation of water through cleverly sand-blasted sides. Compounding the problems, the diving board and pool are misaligned. Any diver foolhardy enough to attempt the feat would suffer serious damage.

Diving Board oscillates between physical menace and the elegance of its sculpturally minimal forms. Recalling the twists and inversions of a diver’s agile body, the pool mirrors the form of the concrete steps. Inverted again, pool and stairs together would take the three-tiered shape of an Olympic medal dais. However, contemplating the seemingly insurmountable challenge of actually using this equipment, we are not yet at the medal-winning stage.