Concrete Playground: Origami Animals Take Up Residence Outside Te Papa

Local artist Ben Pearce created the sculptures to lift the spirits of locals and "make people smile" after a particularly tough couple of years.

Wellington's CBD has just gotten got a heck of a lot cuter, thanks to four, larger-than-life origami sculptures that have taken up residence outside Te Papa museum.

Paper Pals Aotearoa is the new exhibition by artist Ben Pearce, who was awarded $50,000 as the winner of the inaugural Collin Post 'Four Plinths Project' award. Mounted on Te Papa's famous plinths outside the main entrance, the exhibition is the eighth in the series which has now been running for 15 years. Each work remains on site for a maximum of two years.

Pearce's work sees four giant origami-inspired sculptures — including an adorable panda and very brightly coloured pukeko — standing on each of the plinths.

The artist said in a statement he hopes the work will "make people smile" after a tough couple of years.

"Thinking upon recent times and the heavy burdens we have carried as a species I felt a light hearted, humorous, gentle, playful, all-age approach would suit this project," he said.

The statues have reportedly already been a huge hit with the public and you're bound to see many a selfie or solo shot pop up on your Instagram feed soon, so head along to check them out if you need a little pick-me-up. And don't worry about getting up close and personal for a shoot — Pearce says he's more than aware his artworks are going to draw crowds.

"Having work in the public space is going to be interesting. It won't be mine anymore; people will respond in ways I can't predict," he said. "That's the part I'm most looking forward to!"

'Paper Pals Aotearoa' by Ben Pearce will be mounted on the Four Plinths bordering the Te Papa forecourt and the waterfront for a maximum of two years. For more information, head to the Wellington Sculpture Trust website.

Concrete Playground
By Sarah Templeton
February 22, 2022

Concrete Playground: Origami Animals Take Up Residence Outside Te Papa