Helensville is at the southern end of the Kaipara Harbour, 50km north west of Downtown Auckland. It is an easy 45 minute drive via motorway, through wine country and rolling farmland and has a quaint, heritage feel to it. Twenty km further north of Helensville, is the well known, Gibbs Sculpture Farm for which, over the years, I have made a number of works. Most recently we installed a life sized giraffe made from my favoured material, corrugated iron. It is positioned so the live giraffes living on the property can get extremely close!
The studio is a ninety year-old, 700 sq metre warehouse, which is ideal for me to work in that I can produce large sculptures and have several under construction at any given time.
My wife Shona and I live on site and have one fulltime employee. When we are busy or working on a big project, we can have up to six workers in the studio.
I work predominantly with corrugated iron and around the studio are 50-60 examples showing the variety of things I do with it. Visitors refer to it as a treasure trove as they keep finding artwork hidden away or stacked behind something else. Maquettes, models, drawings, woven and knitted corrugated iron, things made in wire, a tin clad car, screen printed metal roofing products, a variety of commissioned animals and birds to name but a few.
Ongoing projects at the moment include a 7metre x 8metre x 1metre mock up for a sculpture going onto the side of an Auckland Public Library, three x 2.5metre tall kangaroos going to Canberra Airport in Australia, pre made sections of a very curvilinear abstract sculpture about to be shipped to Waiheke Island for the upcoming ‘Sculpture on The Gulf’ exhibition’ which will be visited by attendees as part of the conference. For my part, most of what I do will be built onsite over the next 4-5 days leading up to the opening gala evening. I prefer working like this when possible so I can react to the environment and let the sculpture grow and change day by day.
I’m sure that anyone who visits us in Helensville as part of the conference, will leave with a sense of having had a magical experience.