There is something for the eye, the hand and the head. [Gill Gatfield]
Gill Gatfield was jury-selected and commissioned to create “Silhouette” as the result of winning a public competition in 2010. The judging process was led by Rob Garrett who then curated the commission.
The Smales Farm Station Public Art Award 2011 was initiated by Smales Farm Business Technology Park to select a New Zealand artist to create a permanent sculpture or installation which depicts and celebrates the history of Smales Farm as a transport hub on the North Shore. The competition was particularly aimed at providing a major opportunity for emerging artists of great potential. The competition drew 19 projects and Gatfield’s concept was selected from a number of very strong proposals.
Gatfield’s concept proposed that “Silhouette” would be carved from a single giant slab of black granite. The artist had the one-and-a-half ton block of stone quarried in India because, at 3.5 metres high and 1.5 metres wide, it exceeded New Zealand’s normal commercial quarrying parameters. Internationally the piece of stone is unique and took the artist many months to locate. Gill Gatfield extended her research worldwide after trying first to find a seam of basalt in New Zealand; but the scale and qualities needed for the project, and the machinery, were not available locally.
Gatfield’s sculpture occupies a prominent position adjacent to the Smales Farm Bus Station, which is located on the corner of Northcote and Taharoto Roads on Auckland’s North Shore. Smales Farm has been at the centre of the development of transport on the North Shore since 1898, when the farm grazed horses used for the first coach service in the area. This coach service was run from the site of the present day Smales Farm Bus Station, which used to be called Smales Corner.
Located at the gateway to a busy city transport Station alongside the motorway, “Silhouette” offers a contemplative moment in a place of constant transition. A geometric grid of intersecting planes, the sculpture also has organic qualities - balanced proportions, gentle curves, reflective surfaces, and an ever encircling shadow. Green spaces, pond, buildings, Station, roadways and people are framed and contained in Silhouette. Developed in response to the site's history and ongoing transformation - from pasture to 'green' business park, from horse drawn carriages to modern transport hub - Silhouette relays an underlying theme of aspiration. The vertical black stone and horizontal white glacier stone platform reflect the elongated seams of dark basalt that once ran through the old Smales Quarry, and register the Station's location at the edge of a volcanic lava flow.
The proposals were so strong and so interesting – the calibre of thinking and imagination was very high. Gill Gatfield’s “Silhouette” won because it was both artistically outstanding, and expresses a clear connection to the site and its history. This work will have a long life in the community. Because the artwork is a very simple abstract form, I think we will get a ‘slow burn’ effect where people gradually get their heads around the sculpture as they see it in different weather conditions and at different times of the day. It’s a work that will reward people with repeat viewings. “Silhouette” is a superbly elegant and imaginative response to the special history of the site. The solid form punctuated by space and the three elements of stone, air and shadow, contains ideas of endurance and aspiration.
Gill Gatfield website
Review of Gill Gatfield's "X" at Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 2013