HALO - A Virtual Monument - CODAworx

HALO – A Virtual Monument

Client: Wellington Sculpture Trust

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Completion date: 2024

Project Team

Artist | Project Lead

Gill Gatfield

Creative Team

Gatfield Studio

Tech Team

Conical Studio


Wellington Sculpture Trust

Presentation Partner

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Presentation Partner

Aotearoa NZ Festival of the Arts

Presentation Partner

Global Women

Presentation Partner

Waitangi Treaty Grounds


A codified ancient stone circle, HALO is suspended between earth, sea and sky in a legendary space of light. Carving new dimensions in the digital-physical landscape, the sculpture is mystical and transient like a celestial halo yet with gravity-defying presence that explodes the realms of possibility. Combining atavism with futurism, the monument evokes ancient stone circles and preserves primordial matter in the metaverse. A sustainable sculpture, HALO is cut, carved, and manifested in extended reality. People en masse experience the unique rare marble from the mountains of New Zealand while the precious resource remains untouched. Innovating in AR, AI, and geolocation technologies, the 70ft diameter sculpture floats 165ft high, adjusts to light conditions, and casts a shadow on the sea. Site sensitively located, HALO reflects the natural and built environments, and engages cultural, social, and political contexts. Like a monument, the ephemeral sculpture creates a sense of belonging in time and place. It invites public activation, community interaction, and reflections on the nature of presence and permanence in the landscape. HALO expands horizons, bringing magic to the public realm and a focal point for aspirations and dreams.


The HALO project aims to create an accessible, interactive, inspiring, and joyful site-sensitive XR experience which activates consciousness and agency through positive engagement with new technologies. Presenting at monumental scale via hand-held mobile phones, the virtual sculpture generates curiosity, excitement, and awe. As each person steps across the threshold of reality to make their own HALO, the personal monument is growing community. Accentuating human connections across cultures, nature, and time, HALO references ancient stone circles associated with star-gazing, ancestral knowledge, and journeys. Seamless integration of the sculpture in real time and space via state-of-the-art geolocation and mobile technologies provides an immersive experience in real life landscapes. Codifying a rare white marble into virtual form, the project conserves natural materials and promotes sustainability. It seeks to amplify future-shaping at sites of national and cultural significance: a legendary harbor, a capital city, and the historic grounds of a nation-making treaty. The HALO project honors these locations through a virtual halo, a celestial form and spirit that encourages people to look beyond the visible, seeing the past in the present, and the future in their hands.


An interdisciplinary team led by artist Gill Gatfield realised her vision of HALO, a complex yet minimalist giant stone XR monument developed for unique skyscapes worldwide. Collaborating with leading public art organization Wellington Sculpture Trust (WST), the team created an innovative site-specific summer presentation of HALO for New Zealand’s capital city and ancestral harbour. To create HALO’s virtual stone, the artist examined the marble at its mountain source, in historic government buildings, and colonial monuments. Working with XR studio Conical, the crystalline structure and golden veining were translated into pixels and HALO tested in augmented and virtual reality. Local knowledge and detailed studies of natural, social, cultural, and built environments were integrated into a contextual map, informing a geometric grid of geolocations and leylines connecting the sculpture to significant sites. The WST team led public waterfront logistics, and Museum of New Zealand’s curatorial team collaborated with the artist to present HALO from elevated terraces, with bilingual signs in te reo Māori and English. The artist-designed user interface, combined with extensive UX testing, ensured a widely accessible experience via the artist’s app, Gatfield XR.

Additional Information

HALO was launched in September 2023 at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, commemorating Wellington Sculpture Trust’s 40 years of presenting leading-edge public art. The virtual sculpture went viral over the NZ summer 2023-2024. Over 24,500 HALOs were created by locals and visitors in the capital city (population 202,000). Excitement about the sculpture spread across the city and the country by word of mouth and social media, with people travelling to the capital from other regions to see HALO with family and friends. Over 5,300 people responded to one social media post by Museum of New Zealand and 1000’s of people created their own HALO multiple times over the summer. Following this success, HALO featured in the Aotearoa NZ Festival of the Arts 2024, an international showcase of visual arts, performance and music. Beyond the capital city, the sculpture was also presented at the historic national site of Waitangi where the Treaty forming a partnership between indigenous Māori and the British Crown was signed in 1840, and continues to be upheld and celebrated. Over the transformational waters of Waitangi, Global Women leaders created HALO as a symbol of collective strength and circle of unity.