A commissioned project for the Wanaka Festival of Colour, New Zealand May 2009
Martin was one of four artists invited to participate in a residency in Wanaka during the week of the festival with an introduction to the history of the land and its settlement by experts in Ngai Tahu history Matt Ellison and Brian Allingham. The other artists were Simon Kaan, Michael Tuffery and Areta Wilkinson.
Martin, being a resident in Wanaka was able to begin his research earlier.
Wanaka was named by Maori as a place of higher learning, so Martin decided to learn something new about nature’s design and incorporate it into his work for Markers on the Land. After much research he began work making sculptures using natural materials and nature’s universal construction principle known as tensegrity. This term was coined by Buckminster Fuller for the system discovered by Kenneth Snelson in which compression elements are held in dynamic balance solely by tension threads that connect them.
Donald E Ingber in a paper for Scientific American described tensegrity as “the architecture of life”. Other scientists see it as a model for sustainable economic and social systems.
In this sculpture for the Festival of Colour raupo stems were used, interconnected by linen threads. None of the stems touch each other and stress is distributed equally throughout the system making it resilient.
Previously he made a semi circular work titled Synergy and photographed it reflected in the lake to complete the circle. He then went on to make a completely circular sculpture that was eventually hung on 35 metre wires between two trees on the shores of Lake Wanaka with the mountains as a backdrop.
Entitled What is Life it was dedicated to the memory of his friend and climbing partner John Pawson who tragically fell to his death from the SW ridge of Mt Aspiring in New Zealand when he and Martin were climbing it together in November 2008.