Public Art Policy

Auckland, New Zealand 2013

    • Auckland Council Public Art Policy publication; photo by Rob Garrett
    • Francis Upritchard, Loafers 2012, Symonds and Wellesley Streets; Auckland Council Learning Quarter public art commission; photo by Rob Garrett
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Auckland Council public art policy project

Following the amalgamation of Auckland's eight local government bodies into a single region-wide Auckland Council on November 1, 2010, Rob Garrett was engaged by Auckland Council to lead the development of a new public art policy for regional Auckland. The policy was adopted by council on September 19, 2013 and published in 2014 (Download: Auckland Council Public Art Policy).

The policy development involved numerous discussion workshops with Councillors, Auckland's 21 Local Boards, and the Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs); consultation with Mana Whenua and Mataawaka of the Auckland region, the arts sector, members of the public and other stakeholders; and workshops with council's policy, planning and operational teams to develop and refine the policy and to assess delivery implications.

    • Public Art Policy - Vision and Outcomes Table

The Policy

Through the Public Art Policy Auckland Council aims to ensure that Aucklanders and visitors have the opportunity to experience thought-provoking, culturally vibrant, enjoyable, challenging and inspiring public art and public space that is distinctive and unique to the region.

Auckland’s public art will celebrate the region’s creativity, reflect and express the diversity and character of Auckland, generate pride and belonging, and transform Auckland’s public places.

Auckland Council has a strong interest in supporting public art activity in all its forms because it contributes to Auckland’s vision in the Auckland Plan of being the world’s most liveable city.

This policy reflects the council’s long-term commitment to developing and supporting public art activities and caring for Auckland’s collection of public art assets.

The policy has been developed to clearly articulate why and how the council is involved in public art, what we want to achieve from supporting and investing in public art, the principles that guide our  actions and the various roles we play and the context within which decision-making for public art takes place.

    • Auckland Design Manual website

Integrated into Council's online Design Manual

The policy guidelines and recommendations are integrated throughout Auckland's interactive online Design Manual, including a series of case studies.

Project examples

    • COMPANY (Aamu Song and Johan Olin), Sounds of Sea 2011, Wynyard Quarter; photo by Rob Garrett

COMPANY (Aamu Song and Johan Olin), Sounds of Sea 2011, Wynyard Quarter

Commissioned by Auckland Council; curated by Pontus Kyander and Rob Garrett; created with the support of Landmark Incorporated

Sounds of Sea was commissioned as part of the development of new public spaces on Auckland’s waterfront.

COMPANY, the Finnish-Korean artist duo of Johan Olin and Aamu Song, was commissioned to develop a concept that would respond to Auckland’s distinctive waterfront environment and contribute to making public places in the Wynyard Quarter precinct accessible, attractive and enjoyable for Aucklanders and visitors.

Sounds of Sea is comprised of three clusters of highly polished stainless steel shapes in the form of ships’ ventilation and speaking tubes.

The tubes are in three types. Some are large enough to sit in; another is thinner and penetrates the wharf surface so that people can listen through the tube to the actual sounds of the sea beneath their feet on North Wharf; and a third type goes below the wharf and up again so that people can speak and listen to each at either end of the tube.

The artists were particularly intrigued by Auckland’s distinctive tides, which rise or fall as much as 3.5 metres, and with the striking blue-green colour of the inner harbour.

Discovering that parts of North Wharf were hollow underneath, with the tide sloshing back and forward, convinced the artists to create a sculpture that would draw people to the water’s edge to enjoy its movement, colour and sounds.

Sounds of Sea is among a suite of public art projects commissioned by Auckland Council and Waterfront Auckland for Wynyard Quarter.

This work demonstrates the potential to create highly distinctive and site-specific public art that enhances the quality of urban regeneration, and in this case, that improves the attractiveness of the waterfront as a major gateway to the region.

Photo by Rob Garrett

    • Rachel Walters, Hau te kapakapa-the flapping wind, 2011, Myers Park Auckland; photo by Jim and Mary Barr

Art "that gets on with people and starts them talking to one another"

The Barrs on Rachel Walters sculpture Hau te kapakapa: the flapping wind, curated by Rob Garrett for Auckland Council:

"While we were watching two kids got down on their stomachs to try and count the catch, a couple of people took photographs and a passerby told us that she had seen them installing it a few years ago. It’s that sort of art, the kind that gets on with people and starts them talking to one another." Read more here...

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