Reuben Paterson <em>The Golden Bearing</em> at the TSB Festival of Lights in New Plymouth, 2014

Reuben Paterson The Golden Bearing at the TSB Festival of Lights in New Plymouth, 2014


2 Feb — 3 Mar 2019

Reuben Paterson: The Golden Bearing

A life-size, gold-glittered rustling tree takes root at The Founders Lawn, Pukeiti. Artist Reuben Paterson investigates the play of light on sculptural form in the beauty of our natural environments through this visually stunning work.

Within the park setting, the hand-sculpted glittering tree appears to be conjured up through the re-telling of a magical yet ancient legend.



Artist Reuben Paterson (b.1973, Auckland; Ngāti Rangitihi, Ngāi Tūhoe, Scottish) found inspiration for this work in Taranaki’s gardens of national significance as Govett-Brewster Aotearoa New Zealand Artist in Residence in 2013.


Pukeiti Taranaki Regional Council

The result of the artist’s three-month residency with the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, and now part of the Govett-Brewster Collection, Paterson (Ngāti Rangitihi, Ngāi Tūhoe, Scottish) references this local inspiration with the mythology of trees and his Māori heritage as a reference point to navigate toward and from as we move through Pukeiti.

The Golden Bearing title relates to multiple ideas: a bearing as a GPS or map location, a landmark or focal point; as an aid to navigational voyages, glitter evoking nga whetu/stars, with waka/canoes traditionally made from tress; and also the Māori creation myth, the coming of light, Te Ao Mārama, through the separation of land and sky. The colour and material of gold symbolises divine principles, wisdom and enlightenment, informing Paterson's exploration of experiential and philosophical ideas of nature and light. Festooned with tiny shards of golden glitter, a complex interplay of light shimmers over The Golden Bearing, placing this sculpture in an otherworldly, mythological terrain. Transformed through weather, sunlight and moonlight, the tree is reflective of the elements in its environment, essentially creating its own world.

Paterson now lives in New Plymouth where he continues to work predominantly with glitter, a medium he has used since his studies at Elam School of Fine Arts. His large-scale paintings depict Māori and floral motifs, kaleidoscopic patterns, images of animals, landscapes and – most recently – fireworks and clouds.