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 first invited to curate the Sculpture OnShore biennial in 2008 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. On the basis of his success, Rob Garrett was invited to return as guest curator in 2010.
NZ Sculpture OnShore is the largest single-site curated exhibition of new artworks in the country. The scale of the exhibition permits the selection and presentation of a representative diversity of current art approaches. Consequently I have sought to create an exhibition which is a snap-shot of the most interesting and most recent approaches to sculpture and installations suitable for the outdoors anywhere in the country. I believe the 2008 exhibition achieved this snap-shot of diversity; and this year the exhibition has raised the bar, in terms of diversity and quality, even further. For this success I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the artists who sent me exciting proposals when they were invited to consider creating artworks especially for this year’s biennial exhibition.
Since the NZ Sculpture OnShore biennial was first launched fifteen years ago there has been an explosion of other outdoor sculpture exhibitions, garden sculpture events, sculpture walks, parks and collections.
The growth in these forms of exhibition and collections has arisen in part from the impetus provided by a growing number of artists and craft / object makers who are interested in making sculptural form for the outdoors (whether in private or public places). This trend is partly explained by the dramatic increase in the numbers of art graduates from the country’s many art and design schools; and within these growing numbers of graduates there are many more artists who are using sculptural means of expression as one of several modes in their repertoire. In other words, many of the artists exhibited in 2008 and again in 2010 would not describe themselves as sculptors in the way that a former generation of artists did. Better termed as post-conceptual artists, they move freely across many media depending on the ideas they are wishing to express. In one project they may be making video; in another collages; and yet another it might be sculptures. This international shift in art production methods has led to a growing number of artists making sculptural artworks while not necessarily specialising in sculpture. It is an exciting phenomenon that has enabled me to choose from a very diverse group of artists; and has contributed markedly to the dynamic shape of our exhibition.
However, there are other important reasons for the dramatic growth in outdoor sculpture exhibitions, walks and collections in New Zealand and in the Auckland region especially. One is the dramatic rise in the number of New Zealanders collecting original art; another is the growth in landscape design services; and these two are also linked to a third factor, namely the boom in the domestic property market that the GFC has interrupted. In the face of the growing number of other outdoor exhibitions I had to carefully consider what the special role or character the NZ Sculpture OnShore biennial exhibition can have nowadays.
In 2010 there are significantly more site-specific installations and site-referential artworks than previously. As in 2008 the exhibition has attracted a significant number of emerging artists who have never shown here, let alone any other outdoor exhibition before, thus giving you the opportunity to see them before they become well-known. Many very senior and well-established artists have also been attracted to present their work thus adding to the maturity and depth of the exhibition. Most exciting, 90% of the more than 100 artworks displayed across the beautiful Fort Takapuna site were made specifically for this exhibition and come fresh from the artists’ studios. This shows that artists see the exhibition as a very significant and carefully selected opportunity to show new artworks to an appreciative audience in the company of colleagues they admire and respect. It also shows that despite the real hardships that many artists have faced in the past two years, good artists will keep on making fantastic new work for the best exhibitions.
I hope you will enjoy the rich diversity of this exhibition. Even more, I hope that you will find at least a handful of artworks that touch, thrill, amuse or puzzle you; and that in these moments where an artist’s life and creativity intersects with yours, that you will be enriched in ways that words can’t express.
Curator: Rob Garrett
Installation Team Leaders: Cyrill Wright and Glenn Heenan
Children’s Programme: Elizabeth Mertens
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: 87
Number of visitors: 18,000 (28% increase on 2008)
Number of days exhibition open: 11 (4-14 November 2010)