The Sculpture Park at Waitakaruru Arboretum is getting ready for the opening on Friday of its 24th sculpture exhibition, which has the theme Stories in the Landscape.
The Charity Art-in-Nature Arboretum Trust runs the park and wanted to, through the theme, encourage the artists to tell the whole story of their sculpture, including the origin of the materials they use, like the rock they carve from or the metal they weld together and the context of where their finished work can be placed in a landscape.
For the first time and unlike previous exhibitions at the park, Stories in the Landscape will evolve and change over time due to the Covid restrictions as artists find ways to produce and deliver their sculptures to the park.
Dorothy Wakeling, who created the arboretum near the small village of Tauwhare in the Waikato with her husband John, says: "This was never intended to be an evolving exhibition, but we had to be innovative to adapt to the situation.
"Due to Covid, it's not only that certain people and artists can't attend the exhibition or get their work here, some weren't even able to complete their sculptures yet as they struggled to get the materials they want and need."
A new feature that Dorothy is particularly excited about is a video in which each artist shares their story and talks about their work, made available to visitors via QR code.
With the alert levels still restricting the number of outdoor gatherings to 25 people, the opening-night celebration will include only participating artists from Waikato.
"Although it's not how we imagined this exhibition would proceed, we have to embrace the new times we live in and therefore the exhibition becomes an evolving opportunity for artists to showcase their work through to the end of the exhibition in February.
"The sculptures and installations will be integrated with the permanent collection of sculptures within the park as they arrive," Dorothy says.
The exhibition starts off with 20 new sculptures and installations from artists like Sonja van Kerkhoff, Karin Barr, Lee Harrop, Gaye Jurisch, and Nathan Hull. Some of the sculptures will be for sale.
Stories in the Landscape will open to the public on November 12 and run until February 27. As the exhibition will be evolving with sculptures being gradually added, there won't be a catalogue printed this year. Due to the restrictions, Dorothy says it was difficult to estimate how many artists and sculptures will end up being featured in the exhibition.
"These are challenging times for us all. Artists have experienced many delays to complete and sending their work, especially those artists in Auckland. Opportunities to showcase their work throughout the summer months have diminished with many cancelled events."
So she is very happy to be able to host the exhibition. "The artists need exposure ... The park is a safe venue to hold the exhibition as we have a one-way system in place, it's all well spread out to keep everyone safe.
"We already had quite a number of people coming through the park for a picnic ... Being outdoors surrounded by the wonderful colours, scents, and sounds of nature as well as having an amazing variety of art within the park, is a real treat."
Dorothy and John bought the 17.5ha property that used to be a greywacke quarry in 1991 with one big mission: to rehabilitate the land through the planting of all kinds of native, foreign, and rare plants, and to absorb carbon out of the atmosphere in order to slow down climate change.
Since the start of their mission, the couple have planted more than 20,000 trees.
In 2003, Waitakaruru held its first sculpture exhibition. Now, Dorothy and John have more than 100 sculptures on their grounds permanently that can be viewed on a 2km loop walk.
For more information on the sculpture park and arboretum click here.