NZ Sculpture OnShore is a biennial outdoor exhibition of the work of New Zealand artists across all genres and disciplines. Since its inception in 1995 the exhibition has become a major event on Auckland's North Shore and one of New Zealand’s largest outdoor sculpture exhibitions.
Rob Garrett was invited to curate the 2008 exhibition to raise the standing of the exhibition in the arts sector; and to bring a new focus on emerging artists, site-specific installations and a greater diversity of art forms.
Visitors and artists alike commented on the fresh diversity of art works arranged across the beautiful cliff-top site. With 116 sculptures and 96 participating artists, the 2008 exhibition provided a thorough snap-shot of the range of approaches taken by contemporary artists: from ephemeral site-specific installations to carved marble and cast bronze; from highly abstract forms to a life-size farmer and his prize pig; and from enthralling kinetic works to a giant replica of a crashed toy airplane. We were particularly thrilled by the way many exhibiting artists - whether emerging or senior - undertook ambitious new works that stretched their capabilities and creativity.
On the basis of this success, Rob Garrett was invited to return as guest curator in 2010.
My first memories of this shoreline include riding on my dad’s shoulders as he rock-hopped around the high-tide mark at the bottom of these cliffs. I remember the grey-turquoise coloured, sand-filled waves surging at his feet and legs; the salt spray carried up to our faces as the wind whipped upwards against the cliff; and the swaying vertiginous height – like clinging to the top of a mast in a swell.
More than a dozen years before that the shoreline had been his playground as a teenager. He and his mates regularly scrambled down the cliffs to paddle across to Rangitoto in canoes made from old roofing iron and bits of driftwood, sealed with tar scavenged from summer-hot roads. He watched as the air force flew fast and low along the beaches, hugging the cliff-line to give cliff-top Ack Ack brigades defence practice.
Later, as we became teenagers, groups of us would dive into the disused tunnels, pill boxes and gun emplacements, wild stories in mind or furtive romances in hand. Even now, opened up heritage attractions, the old sites are still a place for teenage drinking, yarning and making out.
I can’t walk this site without the layers of these and other stories and memories coming to mind. It always feels fresh, and I wanted the qualities of youthfulness, and surprise mixed with familiarity to infuse the exhibition. The format is perfect. As the country’s largest curated outdoor exhibition showing 108 art works by 94 artists, it provides us with a great chance to embrace a wide range of art approaches, styles and stages of career.
You can experience this exhibition as a snap-shot of current contemporary art approaches. We wanted as much diversity as possible – so you will see ephemeral works alongside carved marble – and our only other stipulations being that the works are of the highest quality and suitable for installation outdoors. You will also encounter art works that are whimsical, serious, puzzling, challenging, jovial, gorgeous, awe-inspiring, tiny and secret, huge and flamboyant. Whatever your experience of these works, we hope you find something to talk about – and something to take home.
Here you will encounter artists who are fresh out of art school exhibiting alongside some of our most distinguished senior artists. Of course we have included many artists who are used to working in this sort of environment and many who have contributed to Sculpture OnShore in previous years. But others are showing their first ever art work for an outdoor exhibition. We have also invited, and in some cases commissioned, a number of artists to create new art work especially for this exhibition. You will be first to see it! We hope you will be intrigued by these specially commissioned site-specific installations – you may even consider commissioning an artist to develop a site specific installation for you!
My special thanks go to Amanda Wayers my Assistant Curator and collaborator, David Scholefield who has led the art installation team, all the artists who took up the challenge this year, Anne Rodda, and Sue Harvey and all the volunteers whose vision to support NZ Women’s Refuges has been the inspiration behind this exhibition.
NZ Sculpture OnShore Ltd is wholly owned by the charitable trust Friends of Women's Refuges which was formed to raise funds for the support of NZ Women's Refuges. The 10-day exhibition is produced and presented by the trustees who established NZ Sculpture OnShore, with a small professional team of experts, and more than 100 volunteer helpers.
Curator: Rob Garrett
Assistant Curator: Amanda Wayers
Installation Team Leader: David Scholefield
Installation Team: Wayne Ferguson, Guy Scoullar, Glen Collingwood, Terry Haines
Children’s Programme: Sandra Cammell
Event produced by: NZ Sculpture OnShore Ltd for Friends of Women’s Refuges Trust (FOWR)
NZSOS General Manager: Anne Rodda
NZSOS Board Chair: Sue Harvey
FOWR Trust Chair: Sharman Ring
Number of artists: 96
Number of art works outdoors: 115
Number of visitors: 14,000
Number of days exhibition open: 10 (7-16 November 2008)