Environmental, social and political issues are depicted in works by some of New Zealand’s top artists, the backdrop being the Te Atatu Peninsula, which was once home to great kauri forests and peat swamps.
The Habour View Sculpture Trail, which displays 45 works by 35 of New Zealand’s top exhibitors, runs through salt marsh areas with ponds and stunning views across the Waitemata Harbour to Auckland City, the Harbour Bridge and Rangitoto Island.
Curator and organiser Sally Lush said each sculptor’s brief was to create a work that exemplified the special character of the Te Atatu area.
“This venue [is] very large and so we can space the work out having each work just in its own context, in its own environment,” she said, “and it kind of leads you on a journey of discovery.”
Sculptor Kerry Strongman’s four metre high kauri structure, Sky Portal to Ascension, decorated with carved Maori symbols, forms the ceremonial gateway at the entrance of the trail. Strongman carved the gateway from kauri stumps dug up from Northland swamps where they had been preserved for up to 45,000 years and with some of the stumps weighing up to 100 tons.
Two giant kauri hooks hanging from his studio ceiling created the idea for the gateway. “People kept pushing them apart to walk through them [and they] seemed to get energy from them so I thought why not create a gate where people would be blessed by walking through them.”
“We have got some quite hard hitting sculptures which are looking at child abuse in New Zealand,” said Sally Lush. “That relates to the environment of Te Atatu … as indeed it is an Auckland-wide phenomenom [and] worldwide.”
Sculptor, Bernie Harfleet, created Bear, which reflects on the number of children that have been killed throughout the country, represents to him “some sort of collective responsibility.”
“The children that are depicted in those coffins,I have altered the dates and I haven’t used names. They are all real, based on real cases,” says Mr Harfleet.
“Those people [responsible for the deaths] are never going to stop being who they are. It is a matter of those around them not staying silent,” he says.
Donna Sarten’s work, 1344 RED kiwis, also asks people to reflect on things that society often pushes aside, in this case the children who are at risk of dying at the hands of their parents or caregivers.
Donna Willard-Moore, who works with integral theory, created a five metre long, two metre high aluminum sculpture, Love and Evolve, which expresses the changeability and evolution of the Te Atatu area.
“When the sunlight is just right the surface of the aluminum changes [making] rainbows of colour that move over the surface as the viewer moves. It is a fun surprise when it happens,” Ms. Willard-Moore explains.
The artist says the colours can represent “the chakra system, the multi-points of view, levels of development or evolutions or the vibrations of the universe.”
A walk through the woodlands and ponds that bordered the Waitemata Harbour six years ago, was Leigh Ogier’s inspiration for making the Harbour View Sculpture Trail a reality, an event she envisaged would bring joy to the Te Atatu community and the people of Auckland.
“It’s a way for the community of Te Atatu Peninsula to be proud and see that their community can be used in all sorts of different ways,” says Ms Ogier who is also the project’s advisor.
The sculptures reflect the ecology of the area—the wetlands and salt marshes—as well as portraying the loss or near extinction of native animals and birds, she explained.
The project received considerable support from the local business association and the Auckland City Council, says Ms Ogier, but it is also expected to bring business into the region.
The trail has generated a lot of enthusiasm among participants as the proceeds from the sale of tickets will be donated to one of West Auckland’s most respected and loved charities, the local Hospice.