Artist: Virginia King
Work: Phantom Fleet Vessel I
Construction: Marine grade stainless steel
Size: 4300mm length
The waka shaped Phantom Fleet Vessel I suggests both seed pod and life boat with the delicate skeletal form alluding to the nautical, anatomical and the botanical. King has been inspired by the Houhere leaf and the structural veins that remain after the outer leaf-layer has eroded. King says "While the vessel suggests boat hulls and empty seed pods associated with water and land, the work also makes reference to migration, endurance and loss. The sculpture alludes to immigrants deprivation and abandonment, and refers to rising sea levels and the urgency of addressing global warming."
The vessel represents life's journey, hope and migration. The work becomes a symbol of nurturing and protection, evoking ancient mythologies, and echoes of departure and survival.
By magnifying and abstracting the scale and complexity of natural forms, the artist draws the attention not only to their beauty and fragility but also the vulnerability of the Earth's eco-systems. In the more universal human context its forms speak of genetic pools and micro organisms, the essence of life. Her sculpture celebrates life in the South Pacific. The works are informed by mythology, history, science and literature, and express concerns about ecology and survival and the delicate balance between sustainability and progress.
An artist whose name is synonymous with large-scale sculpture in the landscape, many of Virginia King's works are commissions for private patrons around the world and rarely seen by the general public. In the public arena, the most well known are Reed Vessel in the Melbourne Docklands, and in Auckland, the Rewarewa Creek Footbridge, The David Lange Memorial and Aramarama Millenium Footbridge in Mission Bay. Also Feather, Fern and Matiatia Frond at the Telstra Clear Event Centre in Manukau City and her work at the Waitakere Aquatic Centre (West Wave) or in the Koru lounge, Auckland International Airport.
King was the 2010 Bondi Sculpture By The Sea Distinguished Invited Artist. In early 2006 she exhibited three large scale works in the New Zealand garden at Chelsea. King was awarded an Antarctic Fellowship in 1999 and has received four People Choice Awards at Headlands, Waiheke Island.