Sculpture of old-fashioned gramaphone. Chris Moore, 'Bird Songs' (painted steel, corten steel, stainless steel). Seen at Sculpture in the Gardens 2015, Auckland Botanic Gardens, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Chris Moore, Bird Songs (painted steel, corten steel, stainless steel). Seen at Sculpture in the Gardens 2015/16, Auckland Botanic Gardens, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Art is optimism made manifest. To write a poem, paint a picture, compose music or shape materials into a physical expression of an idea; for me these things entail a hopefulness about the future.

Sculpture seems to me a particularly optimistic art form. It is often large in scale and can  require a lot of expensive materials. The artists need great skill, a lot of time and plenty of money to make work. Sometimes they receive a commission, but more often make work because they have to; because the creative impulse is too strong to ignore.

Sculpture of flying birds and cut-out birds on steel. Bing Dawe, Titipounamu – A Necklace With Lost Gems (Laser cut steel, bronze). Seen at Sculpture in the Gardens 2015/16, Auckland Botanic Gardens, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Bing Dawe, Titipounamu – A Necklace With Lost Gems (Laser cut steel, bronze). Seen at Sculpture in the Gardens 2015/16, Auckland Botanic Gardens, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The three works shown in this post are all being exhibited at the moment at the Auckland Botanic Gardens as part of the biennial Sculpture in the Gardens. The exhibition, which champions New Zealand artists, runs for a three-month period and is free for visitors. The works exhibited are for sale, and some are bought by the Friends of the Auckland Botanic Gardens to become part of the permanent collection.

Neither Chris Moore’s ‘Bird Songs‘ nor Bing Dawe’s ‘Titipounamu‘ is a particularly optimistic work thematically. Both lament the loss of bird species in New Zealand and elsewhere. But both are very large-scale works in steel which have taken enormous effort as well as vision to create. They draw our attention to the problem, but do so through beauty and creative talent.

Cairn of blown glass "rocks" by New Zealand glass artist Garry Nash, 'Waypoint', (blown glass, stainless steel, glue, sand). Seen at Sculpture in the Gardens, 2015/16, Auckland Botanic Gardens, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Garry Nash, Waypoint, (blown glass, stainless steel, glue, sand). Seen at Sculpture in the Gardens, 2015/16, Auckland Botanic Gardens, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Glass artist Gary Nash’s ‘Waypoint‘ of blown glass shapes is a truly optimistic work, with its clever stacking of delicate glass in what appears to be a somewhat precarious cairn.

Like the art on display, exhibitions such as Sculpture in the Gardens require optimism, and a belief in the power of art to improve the lives of people who experience it.

This post was written for the Daily Post Photo Challenge. This week the theme is optimistic.

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Art and optimism

26 thoughts on “Art and optimism

    • Thank you. I thought at first it was ceramic; it wasn’t until I got close (and saw who the artist is) that I realised. It just plays so nicely with everything we expect from a cairn — colour, weight and stablility.

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  1. Pingback: 2016: a personal retrospective | Zimmerbitch

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