There are so many opportunities to interact with art: museums, galleries, auctions, studios, classes are some of the more rarified ways to experience it. But one of the most dramatic — and fun — is the outdoor sculpture garden. It’s the interplay between nature and art that makes the medium so exciting— not to mention super affordable. Gibbs Farm in New Zealand is one such wonder.Located about 29 miles north of Auckland, Gibbs Farm is a private outdoor art collection belonging to Alan Gibbs who is a wealthy New Zealand business man. Gibbs Farm is the largest sculpture garden in the entire country and is free and open to the public by appointment.
Gibbs bought all 990 acres back in 1991 and immediately began purchasing pieces for his outdoor art collection from a bevy of internationally acclaimed artists like Andy Goldsworthy, Richard Serra and Sol Lewitt. In fact, most of the artworks site specific, commissioned straight from Gibbs himself to seamlessly fit into the surrounding landscape.In addition to the internationally renowned works of art, Gibbs also houses exotic animals like emus and giraffes and built an entire wild west town with a saloon built by Gibbs’ son-in-law, Noel Lane, who happens to be an architect. Lane and Gibbs’ daughter, Amanda, now manage the property full time. While each installation is a singular creation, unique to its artist’s point of view, visitors can expect to see metal in many iterations carrying varying messages and themes. One of the most electrifying (literally!) is Electrum by Eric Orr. Thought to be the world’s tallest Tesla coil, Electrum produces crazy dramatic bolts of artificial lighting that can produce over 3 million volts of electricity.Anish Kapoor’s Dismemberment, Site 1, draws on a much more human theme, as has Kapoor called the stretched PVC piece “rather like a flayed skin.” The bright red color and rippled facade definitely lends itself to that title. Peter Roche’s Saddleblaze, while also bright red, is less flesh more flash. The light based piece is installed inside an eucalyptus grove so that it takes on a haunting feeling of a forest set on fire.In a way more whimsical vibe, you have Neil Dawson’s Horizons, an oversized steel sculpture that resembles a piece of corrugated iron perched briefly on top of a hill, accidentally blown there from a neighboring construction site and about to be off again at the slightest breeze. This playful piece is one of the only works you can see from the road which makes it a local favorite. Gibbs Farm is also home to Kaipara Strata, a much more naturalistic piece from Chris Booth— and was also the very first piece installed on the farm. Made from sandstone slabs and river boulders, the formation feels like an oversize Jenga puzzle, each slab precariously balanced atop one with similarly precarious stones sandwiched between. sources: Wikipedia, Twisted Sifter, Gibbs Farm
Sometimes we want art for arts sake— pretty pictures to simply enhance our everyday. Other times, beautiful images serve a bigger purpose for the greater good, calling attention to issues otherwise unknown. Such is the case for Beth Moon’s photographic series of the planet’s most stunning, unique, and, in some cases, endangered trees. Moon began her arborist journey in 1999 with the intention to photograph trees that are “unique in their exceptional size, heredity, or folklore.” She found all three, though not without some serious searching, as she explains that “sometimes the journey is half the fun.” She began her journey in Great Britain and traveled through America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. During one particular quest in Madagascar, Moon remembers she had to get help from a local chief to locate the tree. “It was so big, you would think it would be easy to spot,” she says, but since “so many of our old trees have been cut down that without a concerted effort you are not likely to run across one.” She found the tree in the end and even had an audience of villagers while she photographed it. Speaking of her photographs, Moon takes hers on a Pentax medium-format film camera. Once she develops the negatives, she imprints them on heavy cotton paper coated with platinum and palladium metals. This way, the image is embedded into the fibers of the paper, giving a full circle aspect to the medium and subject. Something that Moon realized during her time spent among the tress is how resilient so many of them are. She says, “I am always amazed at the way trees have the ability to endure and adapt to severe conditions. Some ancient trees hollow out as they age as a survival technique. The tree will send an aerial root down the center of the trunk, which will continue to grow from the inside out.” In her book Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time, she explains that many ancient trees “contain superior genes that have enabled them to survive through the ages, resistant to disease and other uncertainties.” Unfortunately, not all trees have the same strong survivalist instincts and are headed for extinction. She says “Quiver trees are dying from lack of water in Namibia. Dragon’s blood trees are in decline and on the endangered list, and three species of baobab trees are currently listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. The disappearance of old-growth forests may be one of the most serious environmental issues today.”Thankfully, projects like hers brings much needed awareness to an otherwise under-publicized plight. For example, in 2007, a Madagascar grove of baobabs trees was granted temporary protected status as there is currently only 20 surviving trees from what was, at one time, a thriving tropical forest. Baobabs trees can grow to be 100 feet tall and are indigenous to the area. Otherwise, Moon’s subjects range from teapot shaped trunks to massive species like this Kapok tree from Palm Beach, Florida. Moon actually stumbled upon this one in a book from the 1940s and hunted it down in Florida; she says “I could see that the trunk had filled out tremendously in 60 years; the roots now rise more than 12 feet above the ground.”Whether you’re an environmentalist, art lover or tree hugger, you’ll find beauty in Beth Moon’s photographs that transcends her subject into something timeless and graceful. [source: National Geographi]