Seeing our city with fresh eyes

By Dionne Christian

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Company's Sounds of Sea, modelled on ventilation funnels and speaking tubes found on ships, can become total art absorption.  Photo:  Jonny Davis.
Company's Sounds of Sea, modelled on ventilation funnels and speaking tubes found on ships, can become total art absorption. Photo: Jonny Davis.

I'm not sure if they're art or not."

One of the adults in our group looks down from the Wynyard Crossing to the tidal steps, where you can sit with your toes in the water, when Miss Seven, slurping a massive icecream, declares they are.

"They go up and down like the tide; they're like a mirror image only made of concrete and there's a pattern on them. That's art."

If you want to see your city with fresh eyes, an art walk is a good place to start. It's even better when you have a child along because they're rarely backward in coming forward with views and opinions. Artweek, which starts today, includes a number of art walking tours (and cycling ones) like the Auckland Transport-promoted Auckland Walks Waterfront Family Art Walk.

Pram friendly, it begins at Britomart's Takutai Square and traverses the edge of the Downtown development, crosses Quay St to go past the ferry terminal and the New Zealand Maritime Museum, across Te Wero Bridge and into the Wynyard Quarter.

It ends at Silo Park, where you'll see the Silo Tanks emblazoned with Askew One's mural, inspired by C.K. Stead's poem, Auckland, and have to fight to keep water-loving youngsters out of the pond under the Michio Ihara's iconic Wind Tree sculpture.

Wind Tree, produced after the 1971 Auckland International Sculpture Symposium, was installed in QEII Square in 1977 then, in 2011, found a new homeat the Wynyard Quarter.  Photo:  Patrick Reynolds.
Wind Tree, produced after the 1971 Auckland International Sculpture Symposium, was installed in QEII Square in 1977 then, in 2011, found a new homeat the Wynyard Quarter. Photo: Patrick Reynolds.

You'll be amazed by how much art is contained in such a small space; delighted that much of it, like Tim Gruchy's 8m tall Scout and Pipis in Takutai Square is interactive; and kept busy trying to keep the kids out of the aforementioned water. Bring a change of clothes and towels, is my advice.

Along with modern sculptures like Scout, which you can touch and even drum on to stimulate amazing patterns, you'll find more traditional statues like Molly Macalister's imposing bronze 1967 sculpture Maori Warrior.

At the tidal steps - The Flooded Mirror and Silt Line by Rachel Shearer and Hillery Taylor - there are references to the sea, geology and our own history subtly brought together by a work that uses sound to reveal the cycle of the tides.

Wander down North Wharf and you'll pass Company's Sounds of Sea, modelled on ventilation funnels and speaking tubes found on ships. It can become total art absorption if your child is small enough to crawl inside one; if not, it's still a sensory experience with the funnels acting as echo chambers.

There's fresh art to see, too. Auckland Theatre Company's new Waterfront Theatre features a 6.4m pou (Pouwhakamaharatanga mo Maui tikitiki a Taranga) made from steel and laminated totara by NZ sculptor Professor Robert (Bob) Jahnke. Then there are the lights: the three-storey installation, 10,000 ever-changing LED light installation by American light artist Leo Villareal which is guaranteed to enchant and intrigue.

Other things to see at the Wynyard Quarter for Artweek and beyond:

Asylum: Peter Roche exhibition: daily from 11am - 6pm, until Sunday October 16; Silo 6, Jellicoe St: A multi-sensory art installation spread across all six silos at Silo Park, elements such as wind, water, sound, light and movement are used to delve into themes such as terrorism, state control, surveillance, violence, war and mass exodus.

New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year Exhibition: daily from 10am-5pm until Sunday, November 1; Karanga Plaza, Halsey St: The best images from six years of competitions and the finalists from the 2015 competition are displayed in large format, high-quality prints.

- NZ Herald

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