Chris Booth (born 30 December 1948) is a New Zealand sculptor and leading practitioner of land art in Australasia.
Born in Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands, Booth studied at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts before taking two years of specialist sculptural study in the United Kingdom with such prominent sculptors as Dame Barbara Hepworth, Denis Mitchell, and John Milne in St Ives; and Quinto Ghermandi in Verona, Italy.
Chris Booth works closely with the land, earth forms, and indigenous peoples of the region(s) where he creates sculpture. He has a profound interest in developing a creative language that involves communication and exchange between indigenous and colonial cultures and deeply meaningful environmental works.
He has participated in numerous land art projects and exhibitions internationally in the UK, Netherlands, France, Denmark, Italy, Germany, USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore and the Canary Islands. Significant public commissions include:
NZ: Kinetic Fungi Tower, 2017, Waiheke Island; Kaitiaki, 2010-11, Rotoroa Island; Nga Uri O Hinetuparimaunga, 2004-2005, Hamilton Gardens entrance way, in part collaboration with Diggeress te Kanawa; Waka and Wave, 2003-2006, Whangarei Millennium Sculpture in collaboration with Te Warihi Hetaraka
Europe: Varder IV, 2016, Park Vijversburg, Tytsjerk, Netherlands; Echo van de Veluwe, 2003-05, Kröller-Muller Museum, Netherlands; Steinbergen Strata, Expo 2000 Steinbergen, Germany; Slate Flight, 1995; In Celebration of a Tor, 1993, Grizedale Forest Park, Cumbria, UK
Australia: Waljin Beela, 2017, The Farm Margaret River; Wurrungwuri, 2008-11, Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney
North America: earth, sticks, string fungi, 2013, at the Royal Botanic Gardens Ontario, Canada; nac̓θətəɬp or Transformation Plant, 2012, VanDusen Botanical Gardens, Vancouver.
Booth’s sculpture is often monumental in nature and, as Canadian author and curator John Grande comments, “What is more remarkable are the various forms of sculpture he has gone on to produce, entirely unique. While Booth’s sculpture sometimes draws upon indigenous Maori and Aborigine characteristics, they remain unique, and capture aspects of topography, natural history, and landscape forms already extant in the places he works. He categorizes these works as Slabs, Earth Blankets, Boulder works, and Columns.”
In 1982 Booth was the recipient of the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at the University of Otago, NZ.
A major current project is the SLS (Subterranean Living Sculpture) which Booth is developing in association with the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK. The major focus of the SLS is educating people about the importance of lower plants and fungi for our survival and the effect of climate change. The aim of the SLS is to highlight the range of life on/in the land, rivers and seas, including microscopic forms, in our rivers and in the sea. These ancient and generally lesser known plants and plant-like organisms are vital to all life on earth, yet are threatened by human activities. Located inside the contours of a suitable hill, the sculpture will inhabit over 250m of sunlit underground passageways, chambers and installations. Plans are underway to establish the SLS in New Zealand, in association with the Eden Project
Film and Print:
Booth has been featured in a number of documentaries about his work. These include the making of Wurrungwuri, 2010, a major sculpture in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney and When A Warrior Dies (1991), examining the making of a commemorative sculpture and the last days of the Rainbow Warrior, a Greenpeace ship bombed and sunk by French Government in Auckland, New Zealand, on 10 July 1985.
A substantial monograph titled Woven Stone was published in 2007 by Random House, New Zealand, and remains the principal reference on Chris Booth’s sculpture. The book is currently being revised and updated.