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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Fine Line - Twelve Environmental Sculptures Encircle the Earth by Martin Hill and Philippa Jones

Updated: Dec 20, 2021

Over 25 non-consecutive years, twelve sculptures were erected that circumnavigated the globe. The project began and ended in New Zealand and this book is the only evidence of their existence. Each was constructed from what was available in the natural environment, and only the photographs remain.

In his introductory notes, Martin Hill quotes a piece he wrote in 1995: ‘I will climb to each of these points and make sculptures from the natural materials I find there, photographing the sculptures and leaving them to be harmlessly absorbed back into the environment from which they were made.’

The spectacular array of sculptures begins at Mt Ngāuruhoe with the same sculpture that adorns the cover of the book - a beautifully carved triangle within the confines of a circle. Imagine a filled in Mercedes logo. The sculpture is nothing short of beautiful and completely created from the surrounding snow.

Then it’s on to the next of twelve similarly impressive sculptures in Antarctica (an ice sculpture); Madagascar (a local vegetation sculpture); Mt Kenya (snow); Switzerland (rocks); continuing until it reaches back to the Tongariro National Park in New Zealand.

Even non art aficionados will recognise that the pieces are exquisitely constructed by true visionary artists. The photographs themselves and the ability to capture each piece to full effect is a celebration of art in and of itself.

Each of the sculptures has an overview of the logistics of the trip including the way that the sculpture was designed and, then in more detail, constructed. These stories read a little like a memoir at times rather than a descriptive piece. As a result they allow a little more insight into the creators and the creative process, which is thoroughly interesting.

There is a lovely exploration of the importance of drawing attention to these sculptures as the lines between art and conservation become blurred. The two artists are able to generate a considerable amount of goodwill towards the preservation of such important elements on our planet and should be congratulated for their fine efforts.

Overall, the combination of art and drawing attention to conservation initiatives is very engaging and highly relevant. There is a clear appreciation for the importance of the natural world that permeates the pages. As an interest book, it is a fascinating insight into the methodology of creating art, and as a coffee table book it is a piece of art all of its own.

Reviewer: Chris Reed

Bateman Books


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