The already much lauded Sculpture in the Gardens exhibition at the Auckland Botanic Gardens has been formally opened.
In November 2007 the Botanic Gardens held its first Sculpture in the Gardens event.
It was the brain-child of The Friends of the Auckland Botanic Gardens and a record 400,000 visitors are expected over the coming months.
Twenty-one large sculptures are placed along a two kilometre garden trail, contrasting and complementing the living art of the gardens.
They were selected from more than 70 submissions by a panel of curators, including former Auckland Art Gallery curator Alexa Johnston, landscape architect Rachel de Lambert and artist Richard Mathieson.
Come February, most pieces from the exhibition will be removed. But two artworks will remain as part of the garden’s permanent sculpture collection.
President of The Friends of the Auckland Botanic Gardens, Graeme Hauer, said at the opening of the exhibition that the pieces purchased were perfect for the gardens and had to remain.
Object of Devotion, a 2.5 metre bronze tanekaha branch by Jim Wheeler, was selected by The Friends as its legacy sculpture. On the exterior wall of the visitors’ centre, it is one of the first pieces visitors to the gardens will encounter.
Botanic Gardens manager Jack Hobbs says Object of Devotion is ideal for the permanent collection.
“Jim’s work always seems to reference things botanical and ecological; [this piece is] so very pertinent for a botanic garden. It is a superb fit for the location with the expertly crafted tanekaha branch being right at home.”Jim, who also has displayed work in the Metal Art New Zealand exhibition, said the piece references the strength and longevity of nature.
“This work portrays a feeling I get when I stand in front of a large tree in the middle of the bush; an ancient, fully-grown tree. I feel the worth of this ancient living being. Standing under this impossibly huge leaf from an impossibly large tree, [I feel a] reverence towards nature.”
|TRANQUIL: The artist Jim Wheeler discusses Object of Devotion with an art-lover. |
He says it is a privilege for his work to be included in Sculpture in the Gardens.
Jamie Pickernell’s Bird Lady was also an obvious choice for the permanent collection, according to Jack Hobbs.
“This piece comprises a quirky ‘Bird Lady’ sitting on a seat with a view towards the large lake.
“She looks right at home in the gardens already and no doubt she will delight visitors, especially children, for years to come.”
A full-time sculptor and art furniture maker, Jamie’s work can be found in collections worldwide.
These two pieces were purchased as gifts by The Friends to mark the Auckland Botanic Gardens’ 30th anniversary early next year.
Also featured in the exhibition is Big Man, by Lucy Bucknall, winner of the $10,000 McConnell Family Supreme Award for most outstanding sculpture.
Big Man, a polar bear with a hoodie, seems to take on an almost monastic presence in the gardens.
Lucy says her work is simply a reflection of her world and, although viewers may find some works uncomfortable, she doesn’t create works to fit other people’s ideas of what art should be.
As well as being on display internationally, the work of this British-born, New Zealand-based sculptor can currently be viewed at Waitakaruru Sculpture Park and Arboretum, near Morrinsville, at the Waiheke Art Gallery and at Artis Gallery, Parnell, in Auckland.
The Botanic Gardens’ $5000 People’s Choice award will be announced at the conclusion of the exhibition in February.• Sculpture in the Gardens 2011 runs daily from 8am-8pm until February 12. Guided walks and children’s programmes are available. The Auckland Botanic Gardens can be found in Hill Road, Manurewa.