I have to admit that I like pictures – paintings, photography etc. However I have some appreciation for sculpture even though its not perhaps as familiar. Again “The Big Picture”‘s take on Len Lye got me musing….
I think I was lucky in that I grew up (or as my family would say “teethed on”) some very good, if conventional, scultpure. As a child in 1970’s Invercargill, Queen’s Park was endowed with some great play equipment.
These large bronze animals – the seals and eagle seen above, plus two lions – were placed around a fountain with smaller animals. You can see from the photo how worn and polished the bronze had become with children clambering all over them. I recall how hot they got in the sun – so much that sometimes you couldn’t climb on them. The Thomson Statuary in the children’s playground was designed by the sculptor Sir Charles Wheeler who personally came to Invercargill to help select a site for it. So they were traditional and perhaps staid, but it was imprinted on me that this sort of large public sculture was a tactile thing.
You can imagine my dismay at the “DO NOT TOUCH” signs throughout the Henry Moore exhibition at Te Papa in 2002. Of course I understand about the smaller more delicate objects but the large scale work in the forecourt? I absolutely horrified the person I was it when I just had to go and touch it. Soon others followed suit and several people stood around “caressing” the scultpure. Now I could very likely be wrong but did Moore plant some of his sculpture in paddocks where sheep could rub against them???
Wellington has some great sculpture including a Moore in the Botanical Gardens, where you can also find “Listening and Viewing Device” which I have a soft spot for mainly because of the sound it makes – which brings us back to Len Lye again really. My favourites though have to be Neil Dawson’s “Ferns” in Civic Square (a bad photo) and the “City to Sea” bridge across to the lagoon.
On a smaller scale New Zealand seems to have a love affair with limestone – specifically Oamaru limestone. Even I have dabbled and yes the evidence lurks in my garage (which is now assuming Tardis-like proportions). Having once lived in Christchurch, I was exposed to the wonderful work on Llew Summers which appears all over that town.
I think this gives you an idea of his “proportions” and although I think of his working with limestone, he uses many mediums such as bronze, glass, granite and wood. The joy and voluptuousness of the work makes me smile…and again its BIG and you just need to touch it.