We were a bit worried, I can tell you. Calvin was organising our SLG outing for Sunday and we were having a visit to Shapeshifters, in Lower Hutt. Doesn’t that sound like a gym to you? I had visions of the grey haired and not too nimble members of our group donning Lycra and stumbling around a gym circuit. Luckily, that is not what Calvin had planned at all. The Shapeshifters in question was a sculpture exhibition displayed at the Civic Gardens in Lower Hutt and some of them move with the breeze.
As we drove towards the Hutt Valley we noticed a huge array of classic and vintage cars travelling towards us. They were heading to Southwards Car Museum to take part in the Open Day. We saw Chevvies, Rollers, big American gas guzzlers, fancy sports cars, and little old Fords, all going to Southwards to see and be seen. Robin would have loved to join in the fun and spend the day admiring all these wonderful cars too, but we were otherwise committed.
The variety of sculptures were amazing, large and small, some realistic, and others rather quirky. We found “Strange Fruit” by Donna Turtle Sarten particularly moving. A grand old tree in the garden had been hung with nearly 4000 dog tags. These represent New Zealand’s military involvement in the Vietnam War. Each dog tag is hand stamped with the military person’s details and has a pomegranate image on the reverse side. 500 are blank as the roll is still incomplete. These aluminium discs turned in the breeze and sparkled in the sunshine.
The small copper, brass and bronze sculpture had many interested people looking and wondering about the story behind it. “We come in Peace” by Campbell Maud shows man the explorer, then invader and conqueror of his surroundings.
“We come in Peace”
There were many sculptures featuring birds and this large panel is called “Dawn Chorus: Sound Wave Snap Shot”. Created by Kirsty Gardiner she says, “Imagine a split second image of the dawn chorus. The sound of the extinct Huia calling to each other, all at different parts of their song, a sound wave snapshot – this is what it would look like”.
We were intrigued by the lion and the horse sculpture on the grass and went to have a look. Made by Cat Auburn, his sculpture is based on the famous 18th century painting by George Stubbs, “A Lion Attacking a Horse”. This interpretation shows two carousel animals from a playground ride. After going around and around for eons, the lion finally escapes the clutches of the carousel and kills the horse – the natural cycle of life and death.
“Stealing the Luck of George Stubbs”
Our favourite of the exhibition was the mighty Haast Eagle. Made by Jack Marsden-Mayer of driftwood over a steel frame, this now extinct eagle would have struck fear into it’s prey. The Maori people knew it as Hikioi, “the old glutton”, and with it’s 3 metre wingspan and tiger like claws it was a fearsome predator indeed. And for $7150 you could have it displayed in your garden.
“The Haast Eagle”
And what else took our fancy? “Big Daddy” the frog was sitting on the bank of the stream which meandered through the gardens. Made by Judith Le Harivel from clay.
And “Barrel of Fun” was just that, a whole barrel full of colourful monkeys, escaping from their barrel to have fun in the tree. Made by Trish Clarke to show her children that fun and games doesn’t have to be found always sitting in front of a screen.
Checking out the Barrel of Fun
And no one would steal our caravan if we secured it with these giant padlocks
After wandering around the gardens in the hot sun we regrouped on a seat under one of the shady trees. Lunch beckoned, so we pooled cars and headed off to Upper Hutt for the next part of our SLG adventure.