Wananga landing Wananga landing

Francesco Somaini The Navigator, 1960-1961

20 November 2023

Lead, tin and antimony.
UC/REG/481. Purchased 1966.

Location: Ilam Campus, EPS Library, Level 1


The Navigator’ was purchased for the University by the Ministry of Works in 1966, specifically for the new Science Lecture Theatre block that the Ministry was constructing at the time. Known as ‘Nauta’ in Italianthe work was part of the traveling exhibition ‘Contemporary Italian Sculpture' which toured New Zealand in 1965.

Nauta uses the juxtaposition of surfaces to create a sense of tension and movement. This work illustrates how rough edges and folds were utilized by Somaini to cast shadows, adding to the feeling of volume and space. The violence in the twisted shape and its rough external edges, is contrasted by the smoother surfaces and the cold solid nature of the metal.

It was this very contrast that appealed to Professor John Simpson, former Head of the School of Art, who was the driving force behind the purchase. Simpson felt that the contrast between the works lava like surface and the smooth machined finish evoked humanity’s efforts to control nature. Simpson also described the work as being especially significant in the New Zealand context because of the connections it makes to the ideas of exploration and discovery through its title.

Francesco Somaini
The Navigator, 1960-1961
Artist's Biography

Francesco Somaini, (1926-2005)

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