One Shining Gum / Savia Brillante

5 October to 3 November 2006
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo
Santiago, Chile
11 August-7 October 2007
Adam Art Gallery
Wellington, New Zealand

Project commission for TRANS VERSA: Conversing Across the South, 2006
Curators: Zara Stanhope and Danae Mossman

Included in the exhibition Primary Products, 2007
Curator: Christina Barton

Description 2006

  • One ‘Shining Gum’ tree (Eucalyptus Nitens) from Carterton, New Zealand;
  • Two bottles Chilean Syrah (as payment for the above);
  • Pine wooden crate;
  • Shipping documents;
  • Copies of a letter printed on A4 paper;
  • Dimensions of wooden crate in masking tape on museum floor.

Description 2007

  • One ‘Shining Gum’ tree (Eucalyptus Nitens) from Carterton, New Zealand having been shipped by sea to Valparaiso, Chile and back to Wellington, New Zealand;
  • Damaged pine wooden crate;
  • Copy of Phytosanitory Cerificate ;
  • Two videos on floor-based monitors.

Supported by
The South Project
Creative New Zealand
Massey University Wellington

With thanks to
Nick Bevin, Carterton.

A stated intention of TRANS VERSA: Conversing Across the South was "to reflect the historical, geographical and botanical similarities between Australia, Chile and New Zealand – which all have a Pacific Ocean coastline and were colonised by a European country – and to provide a platform for artists to look at common elements that influence their artwork (but not that of Northern Hemisphere artists) such as Southern Hemisphere flora, fauna and constellations, and weather events". The exhibition was an initiative of The South Project, set up in 2004 to bring Southern Hemisphere artists together through four annual forums and accompanying exhibitions.

Responding to this invitation, Maddie Leach focused on New Zealand and Chile's relationship as trade competitors in forestry products whereby both countries cultivate and process large monocultural Radiata Pine and Eucalyptus forests. One Shining Gum / Savia Brillante involved Leach shipping a single eucalyptus tree (indigenous to Australia but grown in Carterton, New Zealand) cut into lengths and housed in a large pine crate, with the intention to exhibit it in Santiago's Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, and subsequently for the wood to be given away as usable firewood.

The logs were fumigated and intentionally described as "wooden artwork" on their shipping certification, and sent by sea some months before the exhibition was due to open. The shipment failed to arrive at the port of Valparaiso in time for the vernissage of TRANS VERSA. In a fruitless search for the container ship carrying the crate of logs, Leach filmed a ride around the port and inner harbour from a small boat.

At the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo the artwork was displayed by marking the dimensions of the absent wooden crate on the floor and was accompanied by a short explanatory letter Leach wrote to visitors.

Some weeks after her return to New Zealand, Leach was informed the shipment had arrived at Valparaiso but was denied entry by Chilean customs officers. She was given two choices: either the logs would be destroyed at the port immediately, or she could pay the cost for their return by sea to New Zealand.

Leach chose the latter and approximately three months later One Shining Gum / Savia Brillante arrived back at the port in Wellington.

One Shining Gum / Savia Brillante