What Lies Beneath - CODAworx

What Lies Beneath

Submitted by Gabby O'Connor

Client: City Gallery Wellington

Completion date: 2011

Project Team


Gabby O'Connor


Gabby O'Connor


Craig Stevens

National Institute of Water and Atmospherics NZ


What Lies Beneath is a hanging ephemeral sculpture of the lesser seen, under side of an iceberg. This work was created to fit over a 1m x 12m light well in an existing gallery. The finished work was 12m x 2m x 4m, but when packed down, fitted in a regular suitcase. What lies beneath was made from hand cut and dyed tissue paper and joined with a stapler. The light well caused the work to be lit from the inside like a lantern.


My art practice focuses on art works being integrated into the site. The site comes first and informs the structure of the work. The gallery site that What Lies Beneath occupied contained a very long and beautiful light well set into a vaulted ceiling. The problem was for previous projects, the light well was mostly covered over as natural light and art don't tend to mix well. It was my intention to activate the gallery and architectural feature and to use the light well as the only light source of the artwork. The blue light emitted from What Lies Beneath caused the walls of the gallery to appear blue and the fluctuating light throughout the day, altered the way the What Lies Beneath and the site were experienced.


This work was a collaboration between myself, an artist and a scientist whose research focus is on how icebergs and ice shelves melt as well as the curator of the gallery. It was important for me that the work was grounded in science as well as addressing the spatial characteristics and available light of the site as well as the narrative of the work. I also crowd sourced the making of some of the elements as "many hands make light work" but the volunteers also acted as spokespeople for the work increasing its audience potential.

Additional Information

This project has been installed in a number of different sites. Each time, What Lies Beneath travels in a suitcase and takes on a slightly different shape depending on the architectural traits of the new site but is always hung from the ceiling and lit internally.