Feature article


Art and science collide with the unveiling of a new Billy Apple artwork

Feature Article

The full-colour framed canvas which now hangs in our Avalon office is the second collaboration between conceptual artist Billy Apple® and GNS Principal Scientist Cornel de Ronde.

Created as a companion to the stainless-steel plaque in the Tararua Ranges which marks the geographical centre of New Zealand’s Extended Continental Shelf, Billy gifted the artwork to GNS to acknowledge all the hard work done to pinpoint the centre of New Zealand’s territory.

The project’s journey started a decade ago when the pair met through a mutual friend and became fascinated with each other’s work. In one discussion, Cornel told Billy about how GNS and NIWA had discovered New Zealand was sitting on a mass more than 20 times larger than the land we stand on today.

Billy was fascinated that 95 per cent of New Zealand’s extended continental shelf is underwater, which lead him to ask, “So where is the centre of New Zealand?”

Cornel knew this was a puzzle that GNS Science could help solve.

Data technician Jenny Black completed the mathematical equations in the quest to calculate the centre of New Zealand.

“Imagine you wanted to balance the extended continental shelf on your finger; the centre is the point where your finger would rest.”
Jenny explains.

Image caption: GNS Science experts Cornel de Ronde and Jenny Black pose with the stainless-steel plaque in the Tararua Ranges. Credit: Julian Thomson

“I feel very privileged, and [the canvas] is a souvenir of the work [GNS] did; they did a tremendous job with all the helicopters they had to get in and getting the plaque in.”
Billy says.

“This is a way of saying thank you for getting all this done. All I actually did was ask a simple question, but it’s really all Jenny Black. She’s a remarkable woman.”

Image caption: Billy Apple® at the unveiling of his new work in the GNS Science foyer. Credit: Jeff Brass, GNS Science

Image caption (top): Billy Apple® at the unveiling of his new work in the GNS Science foyer. Credit: Jeff Brass, GNS Science