Art at home.
26th April, 2013
As an adjunct to the Wanaka Festival of Colour programme Art at Home arranged for 300 people to visit our home and studio last week as part of a tour of six homes.
Christy Rolfe did a great job of organising this in association with Wanaka Rotary who are raising funds for a community arts project in Wanaka.
There was so much interest one visitor even hopped across the stepping stones into my studio on crutches.
It was a great day, we enjoyed meeting everyone and getting feedback about our work.
On in Auckland
17th April, 2013
as we worked toward the exhibition Fragile Canvas at Gallery 33
is showing in Auckland at the documentary edge festival.
The 25 minute film was made by James Blake and Joey Bania.
Solid ice at last.
7th April, 2013
Saturday was fine and sunny after a hard freeze overnight. We found that the ice on the tarns was thick enough to work with, so we quickly set about extracting a large sheet and carving it to shape to be placed in the centre of the tarn.
By then It was getting warm so we worked very fast before the ice melted. Just as I was carrying the sculpture into place it broke in half. We set to and made a similar shape from the largest remaining piece and quickly installed it in the shallow tarn. I had to cut a path through the ice and wade in to the middle of the tarn to get the camera angle I wanted. Although the sun was getting higher now the image worked and I made the photograph. The sculpture collapsed shortly after.
The fine weather was what we needed for completing the rock sphere and it was good to finally place the capstone and view its final spherical shape.
Sunday was equally fine and we had visitors arriving for lunch by helicopter from Whare Kea Lodge. We all dined on the terrace and then some joined us in walking up to the sculpture on the bluff where Philippa and I stayed to put finishing touches to it.
The day ended with a glorious sunset the clouds deep red beyond Mt Aspiring.
5th April, 2013
Most of yesterday we remained inside while the snowstorm transformed the landscape to white. Summer is over. By 4pm the snow stopped and the cloud began to lift. I headed up the snow covered bluff to work on the rock sculpture.
It was very beautiful with everything covered in fresh snow, but it made it more difficult to collect rocks and increased the danger of slipping and falling off the edge while working. As the sun went down through the swirling clouds around Mt Aspiring everything became golden.
A clear cold night brought a cloudless dawn today. We are off to work.
4th April, 2013
We have been up here on Albert Burn Saddle for a week now and feel quite at home. We are familiar with the extreme changes as fronts come through and then clear.
Yesterday morning it was -5 degrees C and there was a lot of ice in the streams, waterfalls and tarns. Of course this also meant our water system froze up. Under clear skies the peaks shone. A frozen tarn, with some coaxing, became a sculptural medium, while frozen waterfalls hung like stalactites from dark cliffs.
We had another visit – this time from Martyn Myer, a friend and a couple of young guests from Whare Kea Lodge who had been flown up to Dragonfly Peak and were walking back down the East Matukituki. They checked out our half built rock sphere on the bluff above the Chalet and departed after a cup of tea and a chat.
Walking across this rolling alpine highland is a joy with flowers and plants coated in ice and kea circling above. It’s such a contrast to our winter experience here when these mountainsides were all under metres of snow.
Working with rock and water is challenging but works are coming together for the exhibition in Melbourne. Today there is no wind so we will be attempting to complete the Rock Sphere up on the bluff. Correction: it is now snowing heavily with a strong southerly, more like winter.
2nd April, 2013
f11 magazine has published a full profile and portfolio of my work in their April edition. f11 is a high quality online magazine for photographers and aficionados.
I am not strictly a photographer – the art I practice is sculpture and my photography is its documentation, but I am honored to grace the pages of this carefully crafted publication by Tim Steele that regularly features the work of local and international photographers with diverse portfolios.
Check it out and sign up – it’s free.
Ice Circle- featured on f11 home page
2nd April, 2013
Day five and a southerly storm has grounded us again. After a clear starry night when everything froze creating magical ice patterns on the small tarns.
The wind and rain arrived mid morning as we were working on the rock sphere on the bluff. The wind gusted so strongly it threatened to blow us off the edge of the cliff on which we were handling the large rocks.
Yesterday was the only fine clear day so after a flying visit from our patrons Martyn and Louise Myer during which Martyn joined us lugging big rocks off the mountainside for more construction, we hiked over to explore streams and waterfalls at the head of the Albert Burn. One waterfall has several spectacular tiers and should make a site for a work when the weather allows.
Watershed lives up to its name
31st March, 2013
Flying up to the chalet on Albert Burn Saddle in strong winds we had just settled in when the rain set in for the rest of day. The peaks have been shrouded in cloud ever since. Not wanting to waste a minute up here on our Artists Residency Philippa and I dragged our wheelbarrow up the steep snow grass to the site for a rock sculpture on a high rock bluff.
Our Idea was to use the barrow to collect flat rocks from the scree slope below a huge cliff, thus saving the back breaking work of carrying them. Unfortunately the terrain proved too steep and dangerous to traverse with the barrow and lugging the rock was the only way.
After several hours in high winds and rain we had gathered enough to make a start on the sculpture. It was crucial to get a stable base otherwise the progressively heavy structure could topple down the bluff.
A very stormy night brought clearer weather on Saturday with temporary patches of sunlight bursting through cloud and giving glimpses of the glaciers and peaks of Rob Roy and Mt Avalanche. We made two sculptures for the Watershed Project before the weather deteriorated again.
Today the weather proved better and we were able to put in a full day on the rock sculpture which is now beginning to be visible from the Chalet.
Rain and mist have now closed in but if the forecast is correct we may have clear views of Mt Aspiring tomorrow.
Back to the watershed
28th March, 2013
We are moving into autumn here in Wanaka – perfect conditions for us to work on the next stage of the “Watershed Project”.
On Easter Friday we helicopter up to Whare Kea Chalet opposite Mt Aspiring on Albert Burn Saddle to embark on the second part of the Kenneth Myer Artist and Writers Alpine Retreat.
Since we began the project Philippa and I have created more than 20 works about the relationship between human systems and the water cycle. These works and others still to be produced will become an exhibition to be shown in Australia and in New Zealand.
Making this body of work has become a significant event for us and I am hopeful that it will be seen by as many people as possible.
Working in our local mountain landscapes that we know and love gives us a tremendous sense of belonging and we hope this comes through in the work we make.
It is six months since we left Albert Burn Saddle in deep snow conditions. Now it will be bereft of snow until the first storms begin to fill the gullies again. Now there will be tussock, snowgrass and bare rock to walk over, but Mt Aspiring will be wearing its cloak of icy glaciers until the climate warms enough to finally take them.
In the summer months we have been busy making works at lower altitudes in the valleys about the water system.
We have encountered floods that nearly flooded our town of Wanaka and caused much track damage in the river valleys where the immense force of the rushing water undermined river banks, causing land slides that took full size beech trees downstream. Since then a full scale drought set in which has damaged farm crops and set records for low rainfall.
Is this what we can expect from now on?
We will be posting reports on our and progress on the project over the next two weeks.
I hope you enjoy the process as much as we will.
In the Balance
19th January, 2013
I have just completed and delivered a new permanent sculpture to Art Bay Gallery in Queenstown. It follows the theme I began to explore in “Cyclic Flow” for Sculpture in Central Otago exhibition in 2011. (see below)
This corten steel sculpture entitled “In the Balance” also refers to cyclical systems.
Three corten steel rings sit in space one above the other at different angles. They appear to be unsupported but they are joined to each other at a single point giving the impression that they are frozen in time like a multi exposure photograph of a single spinning coin.
The improbability of its form is intended to unsettle and disturb, raising the question: How can this be?
The idea is based upon nature’s fundamental operating principle of interdependent systems in dynamic balance, where breaking the relationships between the systems collapses the whole.
I have made the work in three sizes, from 2 metres to half a metre in height. These works and “Cyclic Flow” are all available for sale by contacting me.
In the Balance – Video of the sculpture coming to life when nudged
Cyclic Flow, at Rippon Vineyard 2011
31st December, 2012
I can think of no better way to get away from Christmas madness than cast off on a three day tramp into alpine valleys with good friends.
Good weather, pristine mountain wilderness and curiosity were all we needed for a great adventure. None of us had entered South Temple valley before so all was new and delightful and even the river crossings with our friends’ nine year old daughter Sammy posed no problems.
Climbing a seven pitch rock climb on a buttress of Steeple Peak was a different story for Dave Newstead and I on the second day. With no detailed route description we got off route onto some very loose rock but eventually made our way safely to the summit in time to race back to camp just on dark for a welcome dinner and camp fire made by Philippa and Jeong-hee
Earth to Earth calendar 2013
16th November, 2012
In previous years there have been several international calendars published featuring my environmental sculptures. For 2013 a German company that specialises in high quality large format calendars have published a very fine product featuring twelve sculptures that I am pleased to advise is also available online.
The company is Ackermann and Stephan Schlieker the art director and I have worked together to select the images. Stephan’s design presents the images in a beautiful format that is not overshadowed by the dates.
We are currently working on another edition of Earth to Earth calendar featuring a further twelve images for 2014.
2013 Earth to Earth calendar can be viewed and purchased here
Back home from the Watershed.
5th October, 2012
It snowed heavily for the last two days when we were up at the Chalet on Albert Burn Saddle. The evening before we were due to be picked up by Charlie Ewing in his helicopter I realised that the new snow was an opportunity to make one last sculpture. Because the fresh snow was very sticky and in the blizzard anything I made was going to freeze overnight I chanced building a large difficult form that would otherwise have collapsed. Philippa also suggested I utilise one of the three sculptures in an earlier work that had frozen into ice and could support my new construction of interlinked circles that would become “Interdependence”.
A few hours of digging and applying the new soft snow and I had the basis of three rings interconnected like chain links. Their final shaping took place as it became darker and colder after sunset.
The storm abated during the night and a full moon traversed the sky towards Mount Aspiring. At dawn the scene was perfect for photography which I completed as the helicopter arrived to whisk us back to the green of the lowlands and our home in Wanaka where we began to return to our regular life after an extremely memorable and inspiring ten days immersed in an alpine wilderness.
Huge thanks to Martyn and Louise Myer, the staff of Whare Kea Lodge and Chalet, Chef James, Guide Laetitia and helicopter pilots James and Charlie.
We look forward to returning when the snow has gone for a different experience making further works for The Watershed Project.
Day 9-10: Reflections on The Watershed
30th September, 2012
Gale force winds have been rocking the chalet for two nights and snow began to fall in earnest yesterday morning. Warm and protected from the raging blizzard we have spent two days catching up on practical matters: downloading photographs and recording our thoughts on this incredible stay up here experiencing this magical place for such an extended period.
The weather is everything here. From freezing stormy nights to burning hot sunny days and now blinding snow and wind. Last night the metal taps on the water tanks out on the deck froze and we are melting snow as our water supply. We also had to dig our way out to the toilet through thick drifts of fresh snow.
It is precipitation that continually creates and changes this landscape. We have been able to experience the transformation caused by the water cycle at close hand. We are literally working with water affected by changes in temperature to become ice, snow and mist to make art that speaks of the human relationship to water.
I feel that this profound experience, totally focused with Philippa on this project together brings out the best in us. It has lifted my work to a different place – a place even more attuned to the environment around us. Hopefully this comes through in the finished works that will eventually become part of The Watershed exhibition.
We have become totally at home here at Whare Kea Chalet. It is so well designed for the alpine conditions and with its spectacular views of Rob Roy Peak, Mt Aspiring, Mt Avalanche and Mt Fastness, it will be hard to leave. But it is good to know we will be back when the snow has gone to experience summer conditions and make very different works in the landscape.
This may be our last blog. The weather is delaying – by one day, at this stage – our departure but it will also obliterate all trace of our having been here which seems appropriate. We will take our pictures and memories back to Wanaka so that we can always return.
Watershed Project Day 6 to 8
28th September, 2012
After two days of storm the skies cleared for a perfect dawn with 10cm of soft powder snow covering everything. We made new tracks to a site to the north and began work on a three-part sculpture.
With strong sun and no wind it was too warm and the first one collapsed in a heap while we were building the second one. We developed a strategy in the hope of preventing further collapses: by building all three at once and keeping snow piled up on their north, sunny sides they stayed standing through the heat of the day.
About 5pm it became cool enough to begin shaping though it was with the aid of a headtorch it was finally finished.
A freezing clear night brought another sensational sunrise on Mt Aspiring. With the three sculptures lit against the shadows of the Matukituki valley and the sun highlighting the tracks of a hare in the foreground the image was finally completed as planned.
With the morning snow hard underfoot we cramponed out to a partly frozen waterfall where we built a sculpture overlooking this extraordinary spectacle.
Keas circled above us calling and diving and the sun made the work arduous. The walk back was heavy going as we sank into the softened snow at every step. The beauty of this awe inspiring place more than makes up for any hardships.
After a delicious lunch and some rest we began planning how to create ice to work with. Since there was none naturally occurring we made a mould by digging a shallow pit in the snow and lining it with a tarpaulin. We poured water into it and left it to freeze overnight.
At 5.30am after a cold clear moonlit night surface ice had formed but not quite thick enough to lift in one piece. It broke as we tried to get it out, so we quickly developed another concept using a shard of the ice to great effect in front of the sunrise on the glorious mountain scene.
With the wind picking up and the skies grey I finalised a work titled Cold Facts on Bottled Water and photographed it before breakfast.
Days 4 & 5: Storm bound
26th September, 2012
With a big low pressure system right over the Southern Alps we have been confined to the comfortable Whare Kea Chalet at 1750m except for the occasional foray out into snowstorms and whiteouts to make quick works and take photographs that show the changing conditions.
In my research for The Watershed Project I have learned about the urgent current research now taking place that attempts to achieve a scaleable system for creating a truly sustainable energy system by splitting the water molecule using energy from the sun. Producing hydrogen from H2O using a photocatalyst would produce no carbon emissions. Known as artificial photosynthesis this renewable energy could become a watershed in preventing catastrophic climate change.
Today I have begun exploring ways to make works specifically about this using water and snow.
Philippa and I also trudged off this morning across the fresh snow leaving footprints to make another work to photograph when the sun comes out – assuming more snow doesn’t obliterate it before then, like the footprints we see from wild four legged animals around the chalet – perhaps chamois or thar.
Snow is banked up at the huge windows and we are surrounded on all sides by views of falling snow, while Philippa paints and we enjoy the comforts and great food provided by Whare Kea Lodge – bravo chef James.
Day 3 already on the Artists’ Alpine Retreat
24th September, 2012
Day 1 Artists Retreat
The weather up here at Whare Kea’s Chalet is keeping us inside for today. We have seen perfect conditions since our arrival on the 22nd - sunny and still – and we have achieved several things since settling in. Our first job was to dig out an access to the chalet from the heavy drifts of snow all around. Next was to store the mountain of gourmet food supplied by Whare Kea’s Chef James. Some foods can be kept in the chilly bin on the south side of the building, in effect the vegetable chiller.
With the snow in every direction absolutely pristine we were compelled to begin right away to make a sculpture to the north west of the chalet, carefully skirting below the sightline to keep footsteps out of the camera angle. We worked hard in the sun with snow shovels but after several hours the sun weakened the structure and it collapsed. It took less time to reconstruct and Martin worked on till dark using a headtorch and the dropping temperature to finish the finer work on the form for photographing in the morning.
Above: the beginnings of the first work in progress. It’s to be the first part of a three part concept.
The physical work primed our appetites for the first of Chef James’s preprepared vacuum packed meals: Seared Aoraki Salmon with chick pea ragout. Coconut panacotta with passionfruit sauce was our dessert.
With a warm bed to go to and 9 more days to focus on creative work it was a good start to the project.
Day 2 Artists retreat
The light pours into the building in the morning and its impossible to linger inside in such conditions. Martin carved the frozen sculpture into its final form and photographed it against a dramatic dark sky over Mt Aspiring.
We prepared to climb up the ridge to the north where Guide Laetitia had been the day before. We had seen her figure on the skyline: what a site for a sculpture. Laetitia instructed us on the use of the transceivers she supplied us with and supervised our preparations.
We climbed with crampons and ice axes to the highest point on the ridge visible from the chalet.
Another good days’ work meant we could relax a little, play some music, linger over another wonderful meal and listen to Laetitia’s tales of her adventurous life. There was time in the afternoon also to reflect on being in such a remarkable place with free time and both she and Philippa began to draw and paint, and Martin to sketch out some ideas for work.
Artist Retreat Day 3
With continuing good weather we got an earlier start to climb Dragonfly Peak behind the chalet. This steep north facing slope would be soft and unsafe in afternoon conditions for us to be on and in fact was too steep for Philippa in spite of Laetitia’s short roping, so she returned to “safer ground”.
Martin and Laetitia climbed up to the top and back with the wind rising quickly and thick cloud amassing.
It was indeed very slushy for their fast descent without crampons.
With James arriving by helicopter in increasingly poor conditions in the mid afternoon to resurrect the webcam and connect us to the internet Laetitia made a judgement call to fly back to Wanaka instead of returning on foot down to the East Matukituki the next day as planned.
Suddenly in the space of half an hour we were connected to the outside world by a router but on the other hand completely on our own. The range of communications – a radio telephone, handheld personal radio telephones, the satellite phone and the internet wi fi and Farmside telephone – would see that (provided we are diligent at keeping them all charged up) we are isolated only in some ways. Add to the list of technology a personal locator beacon and of course the transceivers.
Alpine art adventure begins
21st September, 2012
Tomorrow we fly by helicopter from Wanaka up to Whare Kea Chalet to begin a ten day artist residency. At 1700 metres there will be plenty of snow and we will begin by digging out the door.
With Laetitia as our guide for the first few days we are looking forward to exploring the alpine terrain under winter conditions and beginning to make art works for the Watershed Project.
With luxury food prepared and packed by Chef James from Whare Kea Lodge and the comfort of the Chalet, we will be enjoying a standard of luxury accommodation rare to us in an alpine wilderness environment.
Regular updates will be posted here throughout the project.
The Watershed Project
13th September, 2012
In a week’s time Philippa and I embark on a major project that has been inspired by an invitation from Martyn and Louise Myer, proprietors of Whare Kea Lodge and Chalet Wanaka, to be the inaugural participants in an inspirational artists’ retreat programme: the Kenneth Myer Artist’s/Writer’s Alpine Retreat.
We will spend two periods of ten days based at Whare Kea Chalet at 1700m on Albert Burn Saddle directly opposite Mount Aspiring. I have researched and developed a concept based on the watershed at Albert Burn Saddle from which two river systems issue, the Albert Burn and the East Matukituki. With all the recent new snow we will no doubt have an exciting time making art in this extreme wilderness.
Because the chalet has solar power and internet connectivity we will be able to post regular updates here as our work progresses.
We look forward to any comments too.
Transforming finance based on life’s principles
12th September, 2012
The need to redesign all human systems to be compatible with how nature works is my philosophy.
That is why this statement resonates with me:
June 27, 2012 © 2012
The STATEMENT ON TRANSFORMING FINANCE BASED ON LIFE’S PRINCIPLES begins with the biological truth that the human species is interdependent with all other life forms on Planet Earth. Therefore, human societies, cultures, values and belief systems that are informed by and modeled on the following Life’s Principles, which are strategies universal to all organisms, should provide the basis for all production and exchange of goods, community structures and services. This includes the design of monetary systems, investments, banking, financing, bartering, reciprocal exchange, payments, crowdfunding, compensation and unpaid gifting, sharing, cooperatives, reproduction of future, generations, provision of public goods, infrastructure, collective health, education and life-supporting services.