Shane Hansen’s sculptures Te Kererū Rua and Arrival.
Over 100 sculptures by 50 Northland artists will take their places in the Whangārei Quarry Gardens this month.
They will stand amongst the plants and stones, and lead visitors on a trail of discovery during the seventh Sculpture Northland.
The event has become a calendar highlight for garden and art lovers. “There’s huge interest from both artists and visitors, and it continues to grow. We’re always amazed by the quality and originality of the works,” says Kerry Marinkovich, Quarry Gardens event coordinator.
There are 15 new artists this year, and the show includes pieces ranging from smaller works suited to home gardens to high end landscape-scale pieces. “They’re created out of a range of materials including steel, wood, copper, ceramic and cast glass,” Kerry adds.
Each work sits in its own location independent of the other pieces, and curator, Dorothy McHattie, enjoys the placement process. “The gardens here are amazing and are a distillation of the essence of Whangārei and its people.
In June, each artist comes with me through the gardens and we select a site best suited to their work, which is often just a sketch at that stage,” she says. “Artists choose their own themes and seeing the potential site energises and inspires them.”
Shane Hansen, in his first outing at the event, is showing three sculptures. The host of TVNZ’s Design Junkies is known for his paintings and design work, “so it’s exciting to introduce people to my sculptures – and in such a stunning setting. We’ve been living here for a few years now since my wife and I realised we could leave Auckland, take our respective self-employed work, and live anywhere we wanted. We’ve always felt a strong pull to the north and have settled on the coast north of Whangārei. The natural environment around us is very present and powerful, so most of my work is influenced by our flora and fauna.
“My three works in the show are quite different from each other in subject and in the materials. One is a big Corten steel work of two kererū called Te Kererū Rua. We have a lot of native birds in the bush around our home and this work pays tribute to them, their movement and their song. Another work is a red steel dart speared into the ground and is called Arrival. This refers to putting a stake in the ground to make a claim, either literally or metaphorically. And the third piece is a fibre glass mask that I’ve named Rae ki te Rae which means coming face to face. It’s about the importance of us all being more connected. Real communication and understanding can happen when we interact and get up close to each other, as with when we hongi.”
Trish Clarke is equally inspired by the natural environment. She is exhibiting three plant-themed metal sculptures.
Born and bred in Whangārei, Trish has featured in every Sculpture Northland from the beginning. “Living amongst the power and beauty of our plant world here is inspiring but it sits against the greater backdrop of the environmental damage happening to our flora and fauna locally and globally, so I like to draw attention to this through my work,” she explains.
Trish’s new works for the show include the dramatic subtropical leaf forms of the popular fruit salad plant (Monstera deliciosa) and elephant’s ear (Alocasia brisbanensis) to focus on climate change and the damage to the Pacific Islands. “These two sculptures are made with copper and aluminium, and my third piece is a giant scotch thistle in aluminium. I like playing with the fact that the elephant’s ear and the scotch thistle are considered weeds here but that they still have their own beauty.”
Trish works mostly in metal and loves creating fluid forms from the inherently hard rigid structure of metal. “I’m fascinated by contrasts in life including what are considered male and female elements. When I went to art school as a mature student, we studied the art and craft movement in the 1900s and the place of women in that, and this coincided with a time in my life when, as a solo parent, I was doing the dual parent role and juggling both the soft and strong.”
Sculpture Northland is a biennial show that alternates with Whangarei Garden Discovery. The show runs from November 8-17, 2019 with an opening gala on November 7.
Whangārei Quarry Gardens, 37A Russell Road, Whangārei.
Artist Richard Moore has created a coral-inspired garden in Northland.