Reviews, News and Commentary

Waiheke’s “Sculpture on the Gulf” shows work from the monumental to the ephemeral

Reviewed by John Daly-Peoples

Jorge Wright, Head Within

Sculpture on the Gulf

Waiheke Island

SOTG Small Works Showcase

Waiheke Community Art Gallery 

Until March 27

Reviewed by John Daly-Peoples

A few years ago Waiheke’s Sculpture on the Gulf was included in the New York Times top things to do and the event is regarded by many as one of the great outdoor sculpture exhibitions, not just for the standard of the sculpture but also for the experience of the two kilometre walk with a backdrop of  bush, hills, sea and headlands as well as  panoramic  views of distant Auckland and  the islands of the gulf.

Now in its tenth year the event attracts tens of thousands of people for the three week show which features over fifty works by thirty artists although this year one work is still in transit from China.

The works range from the monumental Corten steel  “Head Within” ($39,800) by Jorge Wright to the small-scale resin works of Joel Dyer ($4850 – $9850). Wright’s work features two  smaller head shapes inside a large head referencing the various levels of “self” we have and our perceptions of ourselves and others.

Julie  Moselen, “Continuum Amplas

There are works which link to nature such as Margaret Feeney’s  “Bird and Insect Bath” ($8000) as well as abstract art works such Julie  Moselen’s “Continuum Amplas” ($32,800) which is a Corten steel version of a Mobius Strip. There are also several works which reference the history of Waiheke’s Māori and European history.

Aiko Groot, Three

Aiko Groot was one of the artists to exhibit in the first Sculpture on the Gulf in 2015 with a kinetic work which was at the time wired up to an electricity source. This year his “Three” ($70,000) is powered by solar panels which are incorporated into the works design. Three stainless steel columns create a grove of metallic trees which mimic the movement created by winds, the upper ‘branches’ slowly moving in what seems to be a random or unnerving fashion.

Chris Moore. Introduced Species

The most successful artist as of opening day has  been Chris Moore who sold six of his large, curved  forged steel “Introduced Species” ($14,500 – $18,450) which reference the impact of introduced plants which have impacted on the local flora.

Several of the works have links to the manu whenua of the island. On the main headland  is Janine Williams’ “Black Picket Fence” ($59,800) a five metre square enclosure composed of black painted palings which sees the space enclosed partly as a European picket fenced area and partly with palings designed for surrounding a pah site.

With Te Riongo Kirkwood’s “Te Rangi I totongia a Tamatekapua” ($38,000) the artist recalls the clash between Tainui and Arawa for authority over Waiheke. The large piece of basalt is rent into four sections referencing four dimensions of life with discs of glass signifying the blood spilt in the battle.

Anton Forde’s “Te Kotahitanga o Whakamaru” ($145,000) consisting of fifty-five pou with pounamu adornment positioned above the harbour at Matiatia in an arrowhead formation act as a welcome and a protector, again referencing the contested position of the island. Forde also addresses issues of climate change in using jarrah rescued from the Australian bush fires

Several works are of a more architectural nature with Francisco  Carbajal’s  Unified Peaks” ($35,000) addressing the issues of sustainability related to the design and construction of buildings. His work is made from mainly recycled materials taken  from building sites.

Jonas Raw, Reflect

Jonas Raw has constructed “Reflect” ($158,850) a small shelter which has a beautifully finished interior of cedar and an exterior sheathed in reflective polished steel. As one circles the exterior the whole area of Matiatia is reflected – the water the boats the various buildings and the hills enclosing the bay. This panorama contrasts with the meditative interior.

Natalie Guy’s three works titled “The Genius Loci of the Chapel” ($22,500 – $24,000 ) are a response to Le Corbusier’s Notre-Dame du Haut chapel at Ronchamp and John Scott’s Futuna Chapel in Wellington. These two buildings are examples of early cotemporary modernism where the architects were interested in the geometry of structures and in the play of light and colour from stained glass on the interior surfaces. The deep-set windows of the Ronchamp Chapel in Guys work are pared back to their abstract forms as fragments of the original.

Denis O’Connor, The last Post Office

Denis O’Connor’s has returned to his delving into the history of the island with “The Last Post Office”,  a work which follows on from some of his previous built works for Sculpture on the Gulf such as the “Tanglers Cave” in a horse float and “The Archive Wine Bar” which is now part of the Mudbrick Bistro. With “The Last Post Office”  he has envisaged a post office with sets of private post boxes inscribed with the names and nicknames of local identities. Inside he pays homage to Waiheke’s history and the cultural identities who have had connections with the island including Sam Hunt and Janet Frame.

With several of the works a little background is necessary as with Virginia Leonards set of ceramic constructions. These seven “Urns for Unwanted Limbs and Other Things” ($4200 – $22,000) were inspired by the artists struggle with the complications of possible foot amputation. Rather than being containers for actual objects these are containers for the concepts of real or imagined things. These highly coloured, ornamental works have their origins in the reliquaries of many religious where the body parts of saints are preserved, taking on great spiritual significance with healing properties.

Lang Ea, KA BOOM!

Lang Ea’s “KA BOOM!” initially seems to be a playful celebration of spring with showers of red blossom bursting from the Pohutukawa. But this celebration is also a remembrance of the thousands of lives lost to the Kymer Rouge in the artists home country of Cambodia.

SOTG Small Works Showcase

Janine Williams, Virginia Leonard, Lang Ea, Julie Moselen

At the Waiheke Community Art Gallery there is an exhibition SOTG Small works Showcase featuring maquettes, smaller works and sculptures by walkway artists and invited exhibitors.

Jorge Wrights has a small  “Head Within II” ($1250) and Julie Moselen has a version of her “Continuum Amplas” with “Balance” ($6500) in Corten steel.

Virginia Leonard is showing a further three urns (($3500 – $3800) and there are also maquettes or models by Aika Groot, Anton Forde, Janine Williams, Lang Ea and Chris Moore

Also included in the show is an archival history of Sculpture on the Gulf with maquettes and archival imagery from previous SOTG events held in the gallery’s permanent collection.

By johndpart

Arts reviewer for thirty years with the National Business Review

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