We’re proud to temporarily host three sculptural winners from the NZILA’s Nohonga seating design competition in Takutai Square.
It’s been a year prompting more reflection than most – a fact that coincided well with the commissioning concept of ‘a place to sit and reflect’ from the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects when they launched their Nohonga [Sitting Place] design competition in early March. After the initial field of entrants was whittled down to five finalists, three interactive sculptures were produced, which will find a permanent home on the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail in Matakana.
On their way there, they’ve stopped in at Britomart to spend November temporarily providing a place for people to sit and reflect on quite a different landscape from the ones they’ll ultimately overlook. A fourth piece, Bioluminescence, designed by Topsy Steele and Anna Li of Boffa Miskell, which incorporates design elements reflecting our coastal landscape and the shape of shells found there, was too heavy to be safely installed above Britomart’s train tunnels, so has already been homed at Brick Bay in the pecan orchard.
The twisted steel sheets and yellow-green colours of this design were inspired by the Māori proverb ‘Whiria te harakeke, whiria te tāngata’ – ‘Weave the flax, weave the people’. Katherine Eastman, Erin Diao and Alex Smith, all of Boffa Miskell Auckland envisioned the forms as providing playful opportunities for people to interact in different ways, through their own creatively interpretions of the folded aspects of the designs. “Like the weaver uses the flax blade to create kete or putiputi, we envision transforming a standard piece of mild steel into a playful yet highly functional module for one to two people to use… Colour also plays a key role in the design, both by providing a visual link to the flax leaf, as well as contributing to a sense of fun and vibrancy.”
Te Whakatōhenehene – The Disruption
This piece explores the tensions between the built and natural landscapes through the origin story and principles of Te Ao Māori. Designed by the trans-Tasman team of Bela Grimsdale (Auckland), Luke Veldhuizen (Melbourne) and Sam Gould (Auckland), the piece reflects on the relationship between Ranginui, sky father, and Papatūānuku, earth mother, with the presence of their unborn child Ruaumoko. “Our vision is of an emergence of form, simultaneously sculptural and functional… Raw red earth is driven skyward, shaped by the dynamic forces of nature and tempered by necessary comfort and stability. Pushed and pulled both subtly and with ingenuity, our seat is crystallised in its final form, revealing a blend of our minds, our hearts, our hands and wild nature. The design captures the endless cycle where Ruaumoko pushes the earth to the surface in anger and the tears of Ranginui’s sorrow erodes the earth back to Papatūanuku (the land).”
Connection vs Isolation
Conceived by two people who perhaps understand the push and pull between connection and isolation better than most – twin sisters Anne and Rosemary Wilkins – this sculpture holds two concrete seats together by means of a Corten steel frame, while simultaneously keeping them eternally at a two-metre distance. "The design reflects our play on connection in a time of isolation,” they write. “Digital ‘frames’ and screens keep us connected while being separated. The design will ‘frame’ the landscape and viewpoints. A place to reflect and look at landscape features of importance, and could be situated to look out upon, for example, Pa sites or feature specimen trees.” In Britomart’s case, the design frames a temporary landscape of native plants created as part of the launch of the new Maggie Marilyn store by garden designer Xanthe White.