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Today I finally made it to Gibbs Farm with the team at Architecture for Humanity Auckland. As a NZ art aficionado, it was truly a highlight. Gibbs Farm is a sculpture park of sorts featuring an extraordinary assortment of sculptures commissioned by an obviously very wealthy Mr Gibbs. It brings art from famous sculpture artists from around the world and sets them in a very New Zealand context. The rolling green hills, the pure blue sky and the harsh NZ light brings together this fantastic collection.

Of course, as with all good farms, there are animals abound although these ones were more exotic specimens. Giraffes could be fed near the entrance, alpacas, turkeys, zebras, stags and more could be seen as you wander the site. Having an emu walk beside us at the Richard Serra was all a part of the experience...

Maya Lin

Unknowingly embarking on the walk (read 'hill hiking') around the sculptures, one of my party told me there was a Maya Lin, in which I had a mini moment of excitement. And there it was (visible from the TOP of the hill). Renown for her landscape art, this is still under construction although it looks like they've lumped together enough dirt to farm a small town. The subtle interplay of proportions are the set for whatever this piece will turn into.

Bernar Venet 88.5 Arc x 8

Most extravagantly sitting on the site, and most visible, was Bernar Venet's 88.5° Arc x 8. It was one of my favourites in the collection. It didn't sit on the site as much as it poised, dancing on the hilltop. Seriously, you can't see how the thing is supported. It is a fairly new piece. Corten steel is all the rage these days with architectural works by RTA Studio (eg Ironbank on K Road) being held up high. I actually saw some sculptures from Venet's 'arc' series at Wynyard Quarter (unless I'm very mistaken), and it was nowhere near as powerful as this. 

Anish Kapoor Dismemberment

The most famous sculpture of the farm is Anish Kapoor's Dismemberment, Site 1. I'm a fan of Kapoor's work, the more intimate ones I've seen are, in my opinion, more effective. You felt like you were standing at lip of a giant ear drum and there was something disturbingly anatomical about it. A theme that ran through Gibbs Farm was the striking blue, red, green colour blocks created by a clear sky, red sculptures and the green hillocks.

Len Lye Wind Wand

Good old Len Lye created this Wind Wand and apparently the thing at the top is created by Eric Orr and emits forked electric sparks. Of course, on this fine day you see none of that and even the wind didn't allow us to see the carbon fibre in action. Not that we were complaining.

Neil Dawson Horizons

Have got to say, I am a huge fan of Neil Dawson. There's even one at the University of Auckland campus (Chevron) so I get to walk around it all the time. His work impresses me at every angle (excuse the pun). This piece is named Horizons and is a tangent from his other work. A master of 2D-3D manipulation, Dawson created this enigma that playfully imprints itself on our New Zealand sky like a Lichtenstein print. As we approached it we wondered: is it 2D or 3D? This coming from a bunch of architecture people, we were all tricked by the illusion. You'll have to visit the farm to get the trick! This was one of my favourites.

Zhan Wang Floating Island of Immortals

A strange one was this chrome-like blob that shone from a distance. It actually floated around as we were figuring out what it was. Consulting the guide book, it was created by Chinese artist Zhan Wang, Floating Island of Immortals kind of summarises it quite well. Note how Gibbs really likes his ponds.

Richard Serra Te Tuhirangi Contour

The king of giant sculture art, Richard Serra graced this farm with his great wall Te Tuhirangi Contour which was really stunning, even when seen from the entrance, eclipsed by the hills. I remember the first time I was taken back by Serra's work reading about Monumenta 2008. Mass and scale aside, the acoustics at certain points in the curve enriched the walk with some powerful echos.

I don't think I've had this much of an art orgy since visiting the Tate Modern in London. Needless to say, people, you have to go and visit this gem in the Kaipara Harbour. Just goes to show there are some really great things sitting in our backyard (or at least Auckland's backyard..) so turn off the rugby and see some phenomenal art! You can just imagine Alan Gibbs sitting in his enormous property soaking it all in but what a generous thing to share his contribution to the NZ art scene to the rest of us.

Visiting instructions are available on the Gibbs Farm website. Entry is free although donations to the Kaipara Harbour area are welcome at the door. There are open days once a month.


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