Auckland City Council (ACC - New Zealand) has run a lively programme promoting public art work for many years, and at regular intervals requests for ‘expressions of interest’ are circulated in the community. When we were alerted to a sculpture project for the Matakana to Point Wells cycle/walkway, which passes right in front of the pottery, it was only natural that we would take an interest.
Planned as part of a much more extensive network of trails, this picturesque seven kilometre stretch winds its way through farmland, over hills and down onto the coastal flats of Omaha, finishing up in the ‘garden village’ of Point Wells. Morris and James has occupied its site on the river bank just outside Matakana village for over thirty years and being one of the larger local employers has a real stake in the community. For a variety of reasons we have not had a chance to explore larger sculptural works, and have only a small visible presence beyond the boundaries of the three acres that the pottery occupies. The opportunity to look at a series of sculptural works using our local clay and the practical and creative resources to hand was immediately interesting.
The project sought ideas for sculptural way-markers that not only artistically complemented the environment but were ‘informative’, providing in one way or another insights about the route that users would follow. At one end the community had also expressed a desire for a ‘gateway’ to mark the entry to their village.
The Council’s aim was not necessarily to create a sculpture trail, but to insert a series of sculptural objects that in some way would create a sense of ‘passage’, drawing walkers (and cyclists) along the pathway towards their destination, while reflecting the rich local history and natural environment. As a product designer the ‘communication function’ of the brief was interesting, although quite ambitious given the relatively small budget ($74K) and the length of the trail. Some consideration also had to be given to getting the work into place, because while not too remote, the trail does roam across farmland and up some quite steep hillsides. Placement would be important for practical, conceptual and informative perspectives.
The opportunity to look at a series of sculptural works using our local clay and the practical and creative resources to hand was immediately interesting.