Batocera longhorns & Goliath ; Elizabeth Thomson; 1996; 96/5


Te Manawa


Batocera longhorns & Goliath

About this object

These beetles were modelled by Elizabeth Thompson from specimens originally from Queensland, now in the collection of Te Papa.

In the flesh, these beetles are larger than life and the artist made sure their details were exact, even getting the help of an entomologist to get them right. They were chosen for their physical appearance,specifically with the thought of how they may appear enlarged, frozen in a creepy-crawly kind of camouflage on the concrete walls of Te Manawa’s art gallery.


Elizabeth Thomson

Maker Role


Date Made


Medium and Materials

Polychrome on bronze

Place Made

New Zealand

Subject and Association Description

For a long while now, Elizabeth Thomson has had an interest in making works which reference the natural world, which she has shown particularly in her use of plants and insects. Her art making process involves re interpreting these in way which leaves us questioning what it is we are seeing, not only in the gallery but also in the real world.

These giant beetles are a prime example of this idea. Approaching Te Manawa’s Art Gallery, you might suddenly notice something emerging from the wall. Upon closer inspection you will come face to face with a group of giant beetles! Several things might run through your head at once…if what you see is actually as alive as it looks, is it ridiculous and illogical or is it Science Fiction, are these creatures from another world or ours? If we get too close would they hurt us, or, are they just as curious about us as we are about them?

The thought of us being inferior to insects is a potent statement to make about role reversal and which cannot help but leave us questioning how we fit into the world.

Named Collection

Collection of Te Manawa Art Society Inc.

Credit Line

Commisioned 1996, Gertrude Raikes Bequest.

Object Type


Object number


Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved

This object is from
Te Manawa   Te Manawa

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