#NZCCM2020 Abstract: Carla Pike

Room for Observation: Artist interview and installation with artist Andrew Drummond

Carla Pike

Christchurch Art Gallery

Carla is currently acting in the role as Head Conservator at Christchurch Art Gallery.  Her normal role is as Exhibitions Conservator.   Main responsibilities are to care for works of art that are on current exhibition. She is responsible for the condition reporting of works as they enter and leave the gallery, and maintaining their condition while on display. Carla works closely with registrars, curators, exhibition designers and technicians in the preparation of works for exhibit and loan, to ensure that they are stable and safe for display. She also assists with tasks associated with the long-term care of the gallery’s collection, including pest management, preventive conservation and disaster response. Carla trained as an objects conservator in Peterborough, Canada, completing the Collections and Conservation Management degree in 2006, and has worked within Canada, Antarctica and New Zealand.  She is currently the Canterbury representative for the NZCCM (New Zealand Conservators of Cultural Material group).

In 2019 Eliza Penrose (Lead Conservator) and myself began a project looking at Christchurch Art Gallery’s kinetic artwork ‘Room For Observation by local artist Andrew Drummond.  This project was identified as a priority by the Gallery’s Collections Team Leader and Lead Registrar due to the extent of work needed to bring the work to a state where it could be exhibited. It began as an intern project in 2019 and was completed by CAG staff in September 2020.  Video documentation of installation is planned for late 2020.  

The work features a system of round-bottom glass flasks of varying sizes and lengths filled with water and black polyester resin pieces that resemble coal. The glass flasks are situated within a larger wooden sculpture, atop a wooden plinth with four brass bowls positioned at each corner. Air is pumped into the base of the flasks at varying intervals, causing the water and black resin pieces to move. It was on exhibition during the September 2010 earthquakes and had to be dismantled and packed away urgently. Although the work did not sustain earthquake damage, residue from the bubbling water and resin remained inside the vessels.  

This presentation will discuss all stages of the project including planning, cleaning of the work’s elements, artist interview, identification of time-based media elements, rehousing, and video documentation of the installation of the work.