Friday 8 February 2013

Art vs nature

Waiheke's biennial Sculpture on the Gulf was our focus today, a 2.5km trail around the headland linking 30 sculptures of various sorts. Art. It can be such a lot of pretentious waffle, such as at the gallery in Gore a couple of weeks ago, where I stood in a room with 17 very expensive Ralph Hotere paintings of black and brown crosses and thought "Pft. Boring and depressing." There was some of that nonsense here too: a canine agility course, a recording and playback of visitors' comments, some peephole boxes to look through, a cluster of roadsigns; but also some lovely things.

Part of the enjoyment was muted, though, by the people, who poured off the ferry in astonishing numbers - apparently, it was standing room only - and thronged the beaten grass track along the top of the cliffs. They were, almost to a man (or woman), overweight, unfit older Baby Boomers in floppy sunhats, puffing and panting up the steeper bits, fussing over how far they would walk before the next rest stop, hanging on to trees, leaning on fences, sitting on the grass and then struggling to get up again. It was like the Zombie Apocalypse, with added chinstraps.

The only good thing was that they got strung out pretty quickly, so I was able to appreciate the more striking pieces, like delicate metal shapes strung on wires, tumbled curves of corrugated iron, an impressive shelter made from wood off-cuts nailed together with no underlying framework, a garden of pretty painted stones on long stems, red cane baubles hanging from a pohutukawa, metal cut-outs like stylised saw blades. Really, though, on such a glorious day, against the backdrop of the sparkling Waitemata, turquoise in the sunshine and a backdrop for cabbage trees and flax flowers, nature had art beaten into a cocked hat, no argument.

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