As Aucklanders flock to Waiheke to see this year's 'Sculpture on the Gulf', NZ On Screen's Zara Potts looks back at some of our brightest and best sculptors.

Art. It can brighten up our days, it can bring a smile to our faces, it can be controversial and confusing, and it can also be intimidating if you just don't 'get' it.

But sculpture, is arguably the 'easiest' art form for people to understand. It's more present in our day-to-day lives than most other art forms, as it's often found in public spaces and it can transform the surroundings we live in.

But sometimes sculpture can be polarising and can create controversy. In 1998, our national museum, Te Papa, was front and centre in a storm of controversy after it dared to show a 'blasphemous' work by artist Tania Kovats called Virgin in a Condom. In this episode of Backch@t, host Bill Ralston manages to keep a panel discussion about the work convivial rather than confrontational.


Watch Backch@t here:

Condom controversies aside, New Zealand is very lucky to have its fair share of talented sculptors, and one of the most celebrated, both here and internationally, is kinetic sculptor, Len Lye. Not only was Lye a genius for moving sculpture, he was also a pioneer in filmmaking. This clip could arguably be our very first music video. Made in 1939, Lye has scratched and painted on film to the jazzy sounds of The Lambeth Walk.

Watch Len Lye's The Lambeth Walk here:

If you have ever walked down Auckland's Karangahape Road, you may have noticed the stunning bronze 'rocks' at the corner of Symonds Street. This is the work of celebrated sculptor, Greer Twiss. The Karangahape Rocks tested Twiss: he suffered two serious injuries while making them. In this documentary, we discover his fascination with transforming functional everyday items — tools, wineglasses and rulers — into decorative sculptures.

Watch Profiles - Greer Twiss here:

When the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior, was bombed in Auckland harbour, the nation was shocked. Artist Chris Booth aimed to capture a sense of emotional closure after the capture and release of the French agents responsible for the bombing. Booth worked with the Ngāti Kura people of Matauri Bay to create a sculpture marking the Warrior's last resting place. This documentary tells the story of the much-admired work that is now very much part of Matauri Bay.

Watch When a Warrior Dies here:

If you've ever been to Christchurch, chances are you will have noticed the immense chalice in Cathedral Square. Sculptor Neil Dawson is well known for his large-scale public artworks and also his unique use of metal in his work. This profile of him shows that he is just as excited about building a treehouse for his son as he is in creating an exhibition of his work.

Watch Profiles – Neil Dawson here:

See more wonderful and wacky works of art in NZ On Screen's Sculpture collection here.