Thursday 21 March 2019

Waiheke Sculpture on the Gulf. Yay.

It's been a rough week, so it was a gift to wake up to a glorious sunny autumn morning and head out on the biennial Waiheke Sculpture on the Gulf trail. I don't know if it's a result of the shooting, or because I'm especially sensitive after it, but everyone I met was so friendly today: the ticket lady, the shuttle bus driver, the volunteers along the route, the other walkers. Lots of smiles and cheerfulness - it was good to see.
I was out early so the trail was quiet, which added to the enjoyment (it will be really crowded later, and especially over the coming, final, weekend) - birds singing, waves lapping, ferries buzzing past. The sculptures were the usual mix of pleasing shapes, impressive workmanship and ridiculous arty pretension - so, all just as it should be.
Metal, as rusted iron or polished stainless steel, seemed to be the material of choice this time; so it was pleasing to see some beautifully shaped and engineered wood being used.
This year's prize for pretentiousness goes from me to Garden Shed, which is a very faithfully reproduced scruffy tin garden shed full of tools and spider webs, with a screen showing drone footage of a garden. I didn't bother to photograph it, but this actual shed a bit further along the track was similar, if a bit tidier.
I have to say, though, the caption accompanying another work was a close contender for that award: "The artist aims to reconstruct Moholy-Nagy's concept into a participatory transitional approach of perceiving light and colour which visitors will experience in the work through navigating the Walkway". 
But it looked pretty (although, confusingly, no navigation was required. It's a box).
The Dance that lasts Forever was a variety of single-use plastic blowing in the wind, and of course that's a statement rather than art, and a valid one too - but it was hard not to notice that a lot less work went into stringing up a bunch of carrier and rubbish bags than, say, welding, painting and polishing the spheres in Round and Round.
As ever, it was the gloriously natural backdrop that stole the show: the sea, the islands, the sky, the trees. And there were some enviable houses, too.
But considering the art did - temporarily, natch - tune my brain into seeing art everywhere, suddenly noticing a pole with a plastic bag over the sign on top of it, and wondering what the message was (Er, this road sign is not yet operational?), or the interruption of horizontal planes by um, a crane on a building site. And how about this, for expressing the ephemeral nature of the human footprint, in contrast with the dark foreboding permanence of polythene?
Of course, it's a soapy shoe-washing spongemat for preventing the spread of kauri dieback disease. But you get my point. Anyway, Waiheke Sculpture on the Gulf. Always worth it.

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