A blend of art and wine entwined, Peter Lange’s Brick Corkscrew is self explanatory really; it epitomizes the experience at Brick Bay Wines and Sculpture Trail. The ‘people friendly’ nature of Lange’s work invites physical interaction. He has long resigned himself to this – and is happy about people, particularly children, exploring, climbing and clambering over his pieces. Here he most specifically invites interaction by providing a bench-like seat in the work. So this structure, while its form references the vineyard, also provides a fine resting place for folk on the sculpture walk.
Peter Lange’s work is always informed by fun. He asserts that his claim to fame is that in 2002 he built the world’s first brick boat – 6 metres long and weighing two tonnes - and it floated. His place in the history of art in New Zealand is actually far more significant. In the 1970s Peter Lange’s name was synonymous with the establishment of pottery as a viable art form in New Zealand. Since then he has exhibited and taught internationally and most recently has been the recipient of a Creative New Zealand Craft Object Fellowship. The work that won the Portage Ceramic Award in 2009 was Lange’s brick Lilo.
Brick is Peter Lange’s trademark material. This interest arose out of building kilns in brick for his pottery practice. Now he explores the potential of brick as an art material, firing some himself, cutting others into a variety of shapes, curves and arches and then glueing them together with epoxy mortar. Here he spirals them into a corkscrew shape.
Lange’s sculpture can be likened to that of Picasso in his mixing of ‘the ordinary’ with the concept of ‘fine art’. He ‘elevates’ everyday items. His works are a loose assemblage of things that have some connection with his life. He has made a bell, a basket, dodgem, a ‘paper’ dart, a tent – all in brick. Nor does he respect the traditional hierarchy of materials. Peter Lange makes ceramic works on a scale that is historically the domain of marble, bronze and steel. With a wry smile one realizes he has broken unwritten laws. In the company of the greatest art, Lange’s work pushes the boundaries, not in a heavy, intellectual manner but in an enduringly more successful way, with humour.