Shelley Simpson Hoax, 2019
Stainless steel, dimensions variable.
In 1852 it was announced that gold had been found on Waiheke. £100 had been offered to anyone who found gold on the Island, and a man named Merrick was claiming the prize. An investigation team set out to the Island to see whether the claim was legitimate, only to find that it was not, and the event became known as the ‘Waiheke Gold Hoax.’
During the 19th century the hunt for gold in NZ was fierce. Fortunes were made and lost, communities were rapidly built and just as quickly abandoned. If gold had been discovered at Waiheke, it would be a different place today. Waiheke offers other riches; as a holiday destination, a place to make wine, a valued home, a place of refuge, a creative centre and a beautiful natural treasure.
The highly reflective surfaces of Hoax reflect our desires back to us, which in the 19th century may have been the riches available to those who extracted minerals from the Earth. Now in the 21st century we look for solutions to the problems we have inherited directly from the types of behaviour that extractive mining was and is part of. Today, we search for a way to navigate the difficulties of living in the Anthropocene, the geological epoch we now inhabit, when, for the first time, human activity is clearly present in the geological record.