SPECTACULAR SCULPTURE PARKS

The Wall Street Journal has rated Gibbs Farm as one of the best Sculpture Parks in the world.

Although located only 40 minutes from where I have lived for the past 14 years, I have never heard of Gibbs Farm. It’s amazing that this collection of stunning sculptures has been little publicized or available to the public. I can’t understand why the man who has spent so much money and effort to create his artistic display has not promoted it as a major Auckland attraction.  It is only open to the public for 9 days a year.

Kiwi businessman Alan Gibbs, noted for inventing the Aquada, which I featured in my blog, Jet Packs and Bungy Jumps, has created arguably the biggest Sculpture Park in the world on his property surrounding Kaipara Harbour, one of the world’s largest harbours in area.

Since 1991, the art lover has commissioned 22 well known sculptors from around the world to create 28 stunning abstract installations across the rolling hills of his 1,000 acre property known as Gibbs Farm. Alan is passionate about his art and takes his project seriously. In fact, he often flies artists to New Zealand to stay at the farm over several summers to give them time to come up with art to complement the dramatic landscape.

Alan Gibbs in his Aquada (auto.howstuffworks.com)

In 1998, one of the first major constructions erected on the farm was the Electrum, an 11.5 metre (38ft) tower containing a 130,000 watt Tesla Coil hidden in the sphere on top of the column. This Tesla Coil is the largest in the world and emits over 3 million volts sending lightning 50 feet in all directions.

Electrum (wikipedia)

Another dramatic installation on Gibbs Farm is Neil Dawson’s Horizons, which resembles a giant piece of corrugated iron on top of a hill. Apparently on first view it appears to be computer-generated, but Horizons is a real sculpture made of welded and painted steel, and it fits in perfectly with the agricultural landscape of the farm.

Part of each artist’s brief was to create sculptures that would sit comfortably with the live animals on the farm. Alan wanted the sheep and cows to interact with each structure so they could become an almost organic addition to the landscape.

Horizons (stuff.co.nz)

Also found on Gibbs Farm is Sol LeWitt’s Pyramid, a cluster of concrete blocks that forms another eye catching object for the sheep two wander around and climb over.

Pyramid (gibbsfarm.org.nz)

Anish Kapoor’s Dismemberment sculpture is a giant tube with open ends on both sides, nestled in a slight dip in the farm’s rolling hills. From the photos, this deep red sculpture looks particularly spectacular. The way it sits supported by two hillocks, only adds to the awe inspiring effect.

Dismemberment (eventfinder.co.nz)

Other exhibits at Gibbs Farm include an array of multi-story paper clips, a forest of 100 giant vertical lights, a bridge made out of cubes, a field of multi-colored squares, and even a life-sized, incredibly realistic giraffe.

The spectacular installations – so carefully placed onto the landscape on Gibbs Farm, makes it truly one of New Zealand’s best-kept secret gems.

HILLS GOLF COURSE

Michael Hill, another wealthy Kiwi businessman, has created an equally impressive Sculpture Park on his Hills Golf Course near Queenstown.  I have recently finished reading one of his books with advice on achieving success. Michael is a keen golfer and also has a passion for the arts. The sculptures positioned around his internationally recognized golf course, are the works of artists who have impressed him on his travels. Possibly the most famous is Liu Rouwang’s Wolves are Coming.  This dramatic art instillation consists of 111 pieces including a pack of howling wolves surrounding a figure with club raised in defense.

Wolves are Coming (odt.co.nz)

The iconic New Zealand Weta is an insect that has become famous since the creation of WETA Workshops where creatures for the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” films were created. WETA also creates state-of-the-art creatures for numerous other Hollywood blockbusters. Michael has been fascinated with the world’s heaviest insect since he was a small boy and wanted to surprise visitors to his golf course with a permanent weta placed on the side of a fairway.

Weta (thehillslodge.co.nz)

In 2006, artist Mark Hill took a bunch of ceramic insulators from old power poles and fashioned them into a number of stunningly beautiful dragonflies to add interest to a boring little pond on the golf course.

Dragonflies (talkingbeautifulstuff.com)

In 2011, Mark created another eye catching installation on another part of the golf course. Being a keen diver, he got his inspiration from the kelp that sways gracefully against the shoreline of the southern ocean. Using steel, Mark managed to create the natural twists and flow of kelp and also echoed the wind influenced posture of trees along the exposed southern coast. I have seen these twisted trees and what he has created in this work is remarkably realistic and also knowing the location well, it will be a dramatic fixture in this particular setting with the rolling hills and open green country as a background.

Kelp (thehillslodge.co.nz)

The Seated Man by noted English sculptor Sean Henry is the latest edition to the Hills Golf Course. It’s placed close to where golfers tee off on the first hole at The Hills. The 12 foot (3.6 metre) high painted bronze sculpture of an old man seated on a three-legged travelling stool, was placed by the creator himself who flew from Britain to Queenstown to choose the right location for his work. Michael is delighted with his latest commission.  “I love it. It blends in beautifully with the landscape. The jacket he has on beautifully matches with the mountain in the background,” Michael said. There is a twin Seated Man positioned on an elevated hill overlooking the Yorkshire Moors in England.

The Seated Man (stuff.co.nz)

CONNELLS BAY

“One of the greatest properties we have ever seen” Lonely Planet.

Auckland’s island suburb of Waiheke has long been known as a haven for artists and the artistically inclined. John and Jo Gow have placed 30 exhibits around their Sculpture Garden on the island. Like Alan Gibbs and Michael Hill, they are also keen to promote and encourage the work of talented artists. In their case, they only invest in Kiwi sculptors.

Possibly the most famous work is Vanish by Gregor Kregar. This colourful piece consists of 160 glazed stoneware figures positioned in a tree surrounded gully.

Vanish (timeout.com)

The landscape plays a major role in Peter Nocholl’s tree hugging piece. He likes to explore the role of abstract art in the landscape and this Connells Bay installation seems to be a great example of his work. To me, it epitomizes what Waiheke Island has traditionally represented.

(bookloverscottage.co.nz)

Phil Price is known for his kinetic works and he has toured his art to a number of countries. Again, he is influenced by the landscape, in this case, playing with the way wind effects objects. I regard his gently leaning 4 yellow pebbles as the most graceful exhibit on the property.

Paul Dibble’s contribution Feather Weight at Connells Bay is another eye catcher with its exposed position on a rise with the sky as the backdrop.

(pinterest.com)

There are other Sculpture Parks in New Zealand but the Gibb Farm and Hills Golf Course collections of outstanding installations are amongst the best in the world.

Ceidrik Heward

 

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