Model of A Garden

A Garden 

Exhibition now closed
28 November 2009 – 7 November 2010
Free entry

A new Sculpture Terrace commission by Auckland based artist Paul Cullen opened on the Outer Terrace, Level 6, on 28 November 2009. Find your way to the upper reaches of Te Papa and discover what Cullen has created in this amazing outdoor space.

Paul Cullen speaking of his project, A Garden


A Garden on video

Hear Paul Cullen talking about his work, A Garden.
(Youtube video)



Cullen’s project utilises the concept of the ‘borrowed view’ – a key idea in garden history. The borrowed view concept involves the surrounding landscape being incorporated into a garden design, enhancing the vista and giving a sense that the garden is larger than it is.  


The borrowed view has its origins in traditional Oriental gardens and architecture, and has also become a technique applied to modern urban architecture and the cityscape. 

As an inner-city space that operates as a viewing deck over the harbour, Te Papa’s Outer Terrace is very much a part of this tradition. Spaces such as this are often developed as outdoor areas for recreation and pleasure, and this site is no exception.

Cullen’s project responds to the possibilities and meanings of the site within the architecture and ideology of Te Papa and its location overlooking the busy harbour.  

A Garden is a borrowed view with a twist. It features a series of familiar materials and objects – concrete blocks, a street light, rocks, steel trestle, hoses, and tables – that are at odds with the usual garden material and design. 

Spread across the terrace, the objects form a field, their configuration determining the viewers’ passage through the space and guiding movement and experience. Cullen deliberately suggests a rational purpose for the objects. They have an appearance of usefulness and scientific intent, appearing like devices to measure and collect, yet this is conflated with their aesthetic presence and indeterminate function.  

The objects are ambiguous in their relationship with each other, the site, and the viewer. Their presence turns a visit to the Sculpture Terrace into a unique, thought-provoking, and even perplexing, observational experience.

A Garden will be on display until 7 November 2010.

Learn more about the Sculpture Terrace