07 July 2012

GibbsFarm - Al Fresco Art

Some may see it as a display of wealth but I view this magnificent al fresco art display as public service. Irrespective of whether or not the wealth comes from hard work, clever innovation or just old fashioned inheritance, it doesn't matter. To conceive and then share this grand idea with the world is just too good to be true. Can you imagine any local authority trying to create art on this scale!  Think of the uproar it would create.  Not only does Alan Gibbs ask some of the best large scale artists on the planet to give their best efforts to this project but he then invites them to supervise (with help) their installation while he foots the bill. That is called supporting the arts.  There must have been great excitement among those involved in all of these projects - imagine the risks of erecting some of the works - imagine nearly sinking a ship loading it with iron?

In the middle of June the 'Friends of the Waikato Museum' filled a bus and journeyed up from Hamilton in dubious weather.  The rain never eventuated and, with winter now evident, the lack of foliage added to the already present sense of space so essential to this project. And at times the threat of squalls from the west across the Kaipara added to the dramatic sense.

The farm was green, the landscape manicured, the animals (and the staff) looked happy and the public were all smiles.  What did we see?  Iron work in massive curved vertical and horizontal forms, a red funnel to talk through to friends in Australia (well, you could pretend with your cell phone), an ejaculating fountain, a wind wand and a clever work representing a giant bent sheet of corrugated irion resting on a hilltop - all part of the day for us.
Corrugated Iron Resting (Neil Dawson work)

Iron Wall (Richard Serra work)

Talking to Australia (Anish Kapoor work)

The final entertainment for us was at the exit.  A tame ostrich could not be herded off the road in front of our bus.  It took ages for the staff member to get him to take off, which the ostrich did with huge display of pique and show. I suspect that the animal was intent on admiring himself (or was it a prospective mate he/she was eyeing up) in the front window of the bus - once I had a nerve wracking moment or two with a tame emu in a Melbourne zoo - I was too scared to turn my back on him!