Terry Stringer is widely recognised as one of New Zealand's leading sculptors. While well known due to his public installations, most of Stringer’s work is done on a smaller domestic scale. “He moulds sensuous forms out of clay, smoothly blending the rhythms of curves into graceful flowing outlines and harmonious counterpoint, which is then fixed in bronze.” (1) The softness of the wax patina finish, the perspective plays and dimensionality contrasts are fundamental to Stringer “consciously testing the dividing line between the real and the illusory, and challenging the nature of ‘sculpture,’ ‘painting,’ ‘drawing,’ and ‘architecture’.” (2)
Stringer draws influence from many areas of his life, noting that when he was young he would “stare at sepia photographs of classical art in an encyclopaedia…. So ‘Great Art’ reached down to me in New Zealand. This is the past that my sculpture remembers. We are all made whole out of the parts of our childhoods… I seek to tell my story in fragments.” (3) Due to a quirk in his eyesight, Stringer finds it hard to judge depth and he sees everything very flatly: ‘I have to deduce depth logically, from visual clues’. This aberration, this twist in the way he sees things, becomes a trigger for his art.” (4)
Terry Stringer was born in Cornwall, England, in 1946. He received a Diploma of Fine Arts, Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, 1967. In the 1980s Stringer “emerged as one of New Zealand’s best figurative sculptors. He doesn’t break rules, he transforms them. Weight-shifter, shape-shifter, he sets the scene… His tricks of perception have become a phenomenological game for one player: you the observer in an uncertain universe. His sculptures flick in and out of focus. To get the best out of them, you have to move around them.” (5)
Stringer is represented in all major public and many private New Zealand collections. Amongst his public commissions are his Aotea Square Water Sculpture, Auckland 1979; Grand Head, Wellington 1987; Risen Christ, Cathedral Square, Christchurch 1999/2000; The World Grasped, New Market, Auckland 2006; and Dance to the Music of Time, Nelson, 2012. In the 2013 New Years Honours Stringer was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to sculpture.
1. David Eggleton, “Shape Shifter: Sculptor Terry Stringer Makes Works of Ambiguous Beauty,” New Zealand Listener, October 3, 1998.
2. Priscilla Pitts, Contemporary New Zealand Sculpture: Themes and Issues, David Bateman Ltd, Auckland, 1998.
3. Artist Statement accompanying Personal Museum exhibition, 1998.
4. David Eggleton, “Shape Shifter: Sculptor Terry Stringer Makes Works of Ambiguous Beauty,” New Zealand Listener, October 3, 1998.
5. David Eggleton, “Shape Shifter: Sculptor Terry Stringer Makes Works of Ambiguous Beauty,” New Zealand Listener, October 3, 1998.