Monday, 23 March 2015

Gibbs Farm, Kaipara Harbour, New Zealand - An Art Lover's Dream

Neil Dawson's "Horizons", 1994  suggest a piece of corrugated iron
blown by the wind. (my personal favourite)
Well known New Zealand businessman and entrepreneur, Alan Gibbs, had been an art collector and patron of the arts for many years prior to buying his magnificent farm/rural getaway, on the Kaipara Harbour, in 1991.  Blessed with wide views across
the vast harbour this verdant, gently rolling landscape of over 1000 acres has proved to be the perfect location for Gibbs to continue his art patronage and fulfil his dream of creating a sculpture park. For the 19 sculptors he has commissioned so far it has offered a rare opportunity to create colossal works befitting the size and scale of the landscape.

Richard Serra's "Te Tuhirangi Contour" 1999/2001 is 252 metres
 long referencing the shape of the land
  It had been a long held dream of mine to visit so it was with great anticipation that I set out on the pleasant rural drive about 60 kilometres north of Auckland.  I spotted one of the sculptures standing out against the skyline in the distance before I arrived, a tantalising glimpse of what was to come.  And what a treat it was!
"Dismemberment, Site 1" by Anish Kapoor, 2009,  runs between a cleft in
the hillside and is 85 metres long. Those tiny specs beside it are people.

"A Fold In The Field" by Maya Lin 2013, covers 3 hectares
Alan Gibbs, ably assisted by his son in law, architect, Noel Lane, has commissioned
major art works by important artists to fill specific parts of the landscape.  Because the property is so vast the art works are too.  The sculptors were given free reign to design whatever they wanted for the spot they were offered and the result is a stunning property the like of which I have never seen before. It is slightly surreal and dazzlingly beautiful.  It can take several hours to wander the property and take in the sculptures from all angles.  At many points I just sat staring and marvelling.

The water feature with Kenneth Snelson's "Easy K" to the left and
 Richard Thompson's "Untitled (Red Square/ Black Square" to the right
But it is not only the spectacular sculptures which dot the landscape, there are exotic animals too, including giraffe, zebra, highland cattle, alpacas, emu, turkeys, ducks, goats and, no doubt, others I have missed.  The whole property is beautifully groomed with a narrow paved road winding around between sculptures but it is also easy walking across the fields.  It was soporific bliss to eat my picnic lunch  beside the lake, mesmerised by the changing rhythms of the water feature.

Exotic animals dot the farm

I was thrilled with my visit to Gibbs Farm and didn't want to leave.  It is even better than I imagined and I can't recommend a visit highly enough.  Entry is free, however, bookings MUST be made for the once a month public openings and can be made through the Gibbs Foundation website:  Numbers are limited and openings are usually booked out months ahead. Public openings are not held through the winter months. 
Richard Thompson's "Untitled (Red Square/Black Square) 1994

Big congratulations and gratitude to Alan Gibbs for his
forethought in developing this unique property, his patronage of the arts and his generosity in sharing it with the public.
"88.5 ARCx8" by Bernar Venet, 2012
Len Lye "Wind Wand" 2003

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