Given the huge success of my blog Gibbs Farm – take a walk on the wild side I find it really strange that I have neglected to write a blog on the Brick Bay sculpture trail. The only reason I could summons was my latest visit to Brick Bay occurred late summer when like the surrounding landscape my creativity had dried up and almost withered.
For some Kiwi’s taking a farm with minimal tree plantings, the land covered in dry, wiry kikuyu grass and erosion on the steep slops of the longish ridges is a welcome challenge. The call to transform into woodland groves, vineyards and building winding walkways along streams comes naturally and the hard-work pleasurable. However, turning scrub-land into a public sculpture park adding a winery building to attract the paying public requires vision.
At the heart of the vision is Auckland couple Richard and Christine Didsbury. There inspiration was the Cass Sculpture Foundation, a sculpture park situated in 26 acres of that genteel classical English countryside found in West Sussex.
To begin with the Didsbury’s like the Gibb’s commissioned large works from artists including Chris Booth and Phil Dadson. Drawing on the Cass Sculpture Foundation model they took a bold new direction and invited artists to display their works for sale to paying public, the returns from the door sales would go into funding the introduction of young up and coming artists.
In addition they constructed a winery building designed by Noel Lane, to showcase their own wines. This glasshouse building anchors the sculpture trail and is a great place to wind down from the walk and process the artworks. Combined with the now award winning Brick Bay wines and delicious platters of local produce, this union of wine and sculpture never fails to deliver a magically days outing (50 minute drive north of Auckland).
Brick Bay Glass House Kitchen…
The Glass House, which is cantilevered over the waterlily-fringed lake doubles as the gateway to the sculpture trial. For the first ten to fifteen minutes the trial circumnavigates the lake, purposely showcasing this ethereal building.
If you’re choosing a weekend to visit make sure you book a table in advance, the long room with low comfortable sofa’s looking out onto the lake and kitchen like tables that occupy the rest of the space are welcoming to locals as well as the Sculpture trail visitors. Post-walk you will definitely want to relax over a glass of wine and platter of food and while away a few hours discussing life and art.
Your entrance ticket doubles as both a guide to the trail and the current exhibits. The works generally are for sale, although some of the commissioned pieces seem to be have found a permanent home. In the pit area down by the Glass House there appears to be a rotation of miniature sculptures.
On my first visit I found these jersey-clad sheep trying to escape out of the pebbled enclosure and head for the nearby grassy fields. Unfortunately I cannot locate the exhibition guide and my research has failed to find the artist. Hopefully someone out in cyber-land will be able to tell us.
Other examples of artworks found around the trail…
“Tor” Richard Wedekind
Nestled into the hillside surrounding at the far end of the lake rusted slithers of rock in the formation of a head greet us. They are as erect and commanding as the Buckingham Palace Guards. Perhaps a strange take on an artwork, which is meant to relate to the rock landforms common in granite country however, this stark sculpture has a defining presence that goes beyond its steel foundation.
“Awaiting Transportation” Lucy Bucknall
Although this work is a past exhibition it is worthy of mentioning not only for its uniqueness but also because of the subject matter, Otters. Growing up one of my favourite bedtime stories featured Otters. I was entranced by these elegant creatures, little surprise that I loved the whimsical nature of these two Otters sporting their Sunday-best hats, laden with luggage, waiting at the station for the next part of their journey.
Bucknall’s key theme, explains the brochure “ is that of migration and its connotations of displacement, which is intensified in the context of forced migration in wartime. This leads to considerations of war, the adversity it creates, its effect on people’s lives.”
“Bucknall’s Brick Bay image has a source in old photographs of immigrants arriving to settle in post-war Britain. Wearing their finest clothes and hats, carrying their baggage, they had embarked on the long voyage from places such as Jamaica and Africa. Often down-trodden but driven by determination, hope and faith in a better future, these ingenuous individuals had undertaken this journey to a new, strange land.”
“Fragmented Interactions” Gregor Kregar
Alas this sculpture, crystalline almost out-of-control cancerous growth, is also a past exhibit. However, it is the dichotomy of this artwork – something that could be construed as hideous yet also beautiful that I admire. At first mesmerizing it is only after some minutes of contemplation I realised its beauty comes from the reflections of the surrounding grassy knoll and Kanaka trees.
The placement of this artwork as well as its abstract and figurative nature gives you an indication of the surprises of the trail.
In a way I think it is great to have both the expected and unexpected on offer, as it will allow you to visit without preconceived ideas of what to expect. In my case it makes me want to return again and again.
Click here for further information – Brick Bay Scultpure Trail