A record number of 21,000 people visited NZ Sculpture OnShore – the country’s largest outdoor art event which ran from 4 to 19 November at Operetu Fort Takapuna, Auckland.
The biennial event, which returned after a COVID-induced five-year hiatus, sold 39% of its 130 artworks – the most ever in its 27-year history. Proceeds from tickets and the sale of artworks will be donated to Women’s Refuge NZ.
Long sunny spells brought visitors in droves to see the quirky and thought-provoking works and soaring monumental sculptures at the exhibition with its glorious backdrop of the Waitematâ Harbour.
NZ Sculpture OnShore chair Sally Dewar says the record results are a testament to the generosity of visitors and buyers, the skill of the 100 artists exhibiting works and the hard work of all involved.
“In addition to a small event team, there were 387 volunteers who undertook a myriad of tasks. Students from 16 Auckland schools contributed artworks; and more than 1,500 students visited as part of the Schools’ Tour programme. Visitors came from all over New Zealand to view the exhibition. Our much-valued patrons and sponsors support the event year after year.
“NZ Sculpture OnShore has community at its heart. Everyone involved contributed toward the significant donation we will be providing to Women’s Refuge NZ. The figure will be known in the New Year, when final artworks have been sold and shipped,” says Mrs Dewar.
Artist Jamie Thomas won the Fisher Funds People’s Choice Award for his two-metre-high corten steel work Rock and A Hard Place. “I hope to raise awareness around domestic violence and give the audience a better understanding of what some women are going through,” says Mr Thomas.
Hundreds of visitors wrote notes of support to Women’s Refuge NZ clients following a tour of and then they kissed me – an installation created onsite by social practice artists Bernie Harfleet and Turtle Sarten in the Fort’s engine room and connecting tunnels.
“Many visitors to and then they kissed me were profoundly moved. Created as a metaphor for the experience of women and children fleeing domestic violence, the work symbolizes the ‘why’ of the exhibition,” says Mrs Dewar.
Daniel McKerrow’s three-metre-high soaring tûî Kia Mau Te Rongo provided the perfect photo stop, as did Merle Bishop’s delightful Sit With Me…! Spot the dog sculpture, with Rangitoto in the background. Christchurch artist Anneke Bester’s beautiful bronze female forms seemed to dance in the wind. Master carver Joe Kemp’s commanding Tama Tu Tama Ora (Stand Up for Your Rights) was a mighty totem towering over visitors. Craig Ellis’s bright pink Three little Pigs and Bryn Jones’ primary coloured A Drop in the Ocean swimming figures brought a sense of fun, among the many works admired by visitors.
Since inception, the event has raised more than $2 million for Women’s Refuge NZ, helping women and children access safe places to stay, and providing counselling and wrap around services.
NZ Sculpture OnShore is grateful for the support of principal sponsor Fisher Funds and gold sponsors Hesketh Henry and Harcourts Cooper & Co.