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