In sooth, I know not why I am so sad.It wearies me; you say it wearies you.But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,What stuff ’tis made of, whereof it is born,I am to learn.And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,That I have much ado to know myself.— William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
Like Antonio in The Merchant of Venice, I’ve lately been troubled by a inexplicable melancholy. Lethargic to the point of inertia, I was really grateful to the Big T for organising a trip to Gibbs Farm Sculpture Park last week. It got me off my butt and out into the fresh (really fresh) air.
The park is the private domain of entreprenuer Alan Gibbs, and is home to an impressive collection of minimalist abstract sculptures — most on a monumental scale.
Once a month, Gibbs Farm is opened to the public. Tickets are usually snapped up very quickly, so the Big T did wonderfully well in getting us a couple.
As you would expect with a collection that specialises in large-scale work, the park is enormous — around 1000 acres in total. Access is by foot only, although golf carts can be brought in by arrangement for those who could not walk the terrain. It takes around 3-4 hours to visit all the sculptures in good weather. But last Thursday could not be described as having “good weather.” Frequent showers meant a constant juggling act with umbrellas, and soggy ground underfoot made the steeper parts of the walk quite challenging.
But on the plus side, the lowering skies added an incredible atmosphere and provided a great backdrop for photographs.
The scale of the works can be quite challenging for photography. Te Tuhirangi Contour is a wall, 252 metres long and six metres high which follows the natural contour of the land. At this size, I found it really difficult to capture its undulating shape and scale.
Anish Kapoor’s Dismemberment, Site 1, is an 85 metre tube of “PVC membrane stretched between two giant steel elipses.” (1) It rests in a valley, so it’s impossible to see the whole work. In some ways, that just adds to the sense of awe I think the work inspires.
By the end of our visit we were wet, muddy, exhausted and longing for a cuppa. A good day then.
(1) Description of the work in visitors’ guide.