Diverse crowds surveying art make for dynamic debate and that makes art more exciting. And kids love experiencing creativity in more carefree settings too, rather than in the hushed city galleries.
Joining the art trail movement, Phil and I jumped on a ferry a couple of weeks ago and visited Headland, the Sculpture on the Gulf exhibition on Waiheke, which ran for three weeks over summer. (OHT, Feb 29.)
Twenty-six sculptures from New Zealand artists were displayed several kilometres along a track, which meanders over some of the most stunning coastline in the world.
It was a glorious day and I imagined we’d enjoy the event at a leisurely pace. Phil imagined we’d “knock the trail off” as quickly as possible, lie under a tree, have a snooze and be home in time to watch motor racing on the tele.
Not surprisingly, we came unstuck pretty quickly; three minutes into the trail, in fact. The first challenge came in the form of several sheets of corrugated iron, curled slightly at the edges, cascading down a hill. There was something familiar about the ‘attitude’ of the iron.
“It looks like a Jeff Thompson,” I said. Thompson is one of this country’s most recognised sculptors, with works in corrugated iron forming his signature style. Contour featured in the 2005 Waiheke sculpture trail and has become a permanent exhibit on the track.
Thompson wrote: “Its curves, twists, spirals and loops meander, flow and jump through space, and down the slope towards the sea.” Phil said it looked as though a messy farmer had thrown rubbish down the bank. We were in for a long day and we hadn’t even started the official programme.
So I didn’t read out Jurisich’s words from the catalogue: something about considering the expanse of our surroundings; and “the domesticity and practical notions of sewing and embroidery as heirlooms.”
Phil was animated as we approached Paul Radford’s Flotsam. “I get this. It’s a boat.”
I also saw a head in Flotsam. Phil wanted to know how a boat could also be a head. The catalogue informed him: Radford started making small sculptures of simplified heads, which he found to resemble boat hulls.
I summarised: “Both our points are valid. Basically, anything goes.” This was a difficult concept for an engineer to grasp and it was time to move on, again.
Biggie, the life-sized plywood plane by Christian Nicholson, took Phil on a flight down memory lane. Like many Kiwi boys, Phil loved making model planes. In his early teens, this gave him more enjoyment than chasing girls. (Not so in his mid-teens.)
Phil found a mate that day – another husband dragged along the track while his wife enthused over the entire experience. He also learnt of a short cut that would eliminate the remaining 15 works. Guess what happened to that idea.