Sunday, 28 February 2016

Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens

Regeneration by Murray Swan
Regular readers of my blog will know that I enjoy strolling around sculpture gardens, pondering the art, and soaking up their ambiance and scenery. As far as I'm concerned it is the perfect combination for a day out.  A week ago I took a drive into the country to visit the Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens, about an hour's drive from my home. What an unexpected delight.

 Owner, David Bayly, grew up on the land on his family farm. From an early age he developed a deep interested in plants and eventually bought a part of his father's  farm to turn into a very successful plant nursery.  The sculpture gardens were part of his vision and through the determination and sheer hard work of both David and his wife, Geraldine, they now form a sublime and tranquil backdrop for the art exhibitions they have held every year for the last eight years.

The Secret Life of Trees by Denise Marshall

 The one kilometre trail winds through a peaceful, rural valley with constantly changing vistas.  Along the twisting pathways you will find a well maintained vegetable garden and orchard, mown lawns and hydrangea lined paths, groves of pine trees and New Zealand bush reflecting in ponds, the whole coming together harmoniously.  Against this backdrop are the sculptures, 59 in all, carefully picked to suit their specific location.

 I liked the whimsical display of brightly coloured ladders, with amusing quotes written on them, set amongst the orchard, a contribution to the exhibition  from the Bayly's.
Example: Quote from Mae West "She climbed the ladder of success from wrong to wrong"

Hydrangeas by Janette Cervin

As with every sculpture trail some of the art is beautiful, some is challenging and some is more prosaic. It is a good mix. There are plenty of places to picnic and also seating for quiet contemplation.

Taraxacum Forest by Janet and Mario Downes
A recent addition to the gardens is a bush walk created by David and his father, Don, which winds down into a valley past a stream and a waterfall, sadly rather summer dry when I was there, but a lovely walk with excellent views out over the Kaipara Harbour.

The bush walk was carved  using traditional tools - wheelbarrow, shovel and rake
I spent about 2 and a half hours in the gardens, had them completely to myself and loved every minute of my visit. I was on a high for the rest of the day and will look forward to returning next year to see the new exhibition.  One thing to be aware of - 14 of the sculptures are on the long driveway into the gardens.  I nearly missed them and they are worth seeing. There is also a cafe within the plant nursery which was very busy the day I was there.  The current exhibition runs until October. 

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Dragonfly by Bruce Young

Seagulls by Jay Lloyd ( the Kaipara Harbour in the distance)