Sculptures nestle by nature at Waiwhetu

Hutt News, November 17, 2015

Two new features on what will be developed in to a public art trail alongside Waiwhetu Stream were unveiled last week.

Untie Me by Duncan Sergent and Stele:Seal by David Mc Gill both had their genesis at the Rotary Club of Hutt City’s biennial Shapeshifter showcase of sculpture.  Trustees of e Tu Awakairangi Hutt Public Art Trust liked the original works entered in shapeshifter by the two Wellington sculptors and asked them to develop larger pieces ‘more to our purpose” for the Waiwhetu trail, trust chairman Greg Thomas said.

Allan Brown of E Te Awakairangi Sculpture Trust, left, and artist David McGill, with McGill's sculpture Stele:Seal, placed near the Hutt River mouth.

Allan Brown of E Te Awakairangi Sculpture Trust, left, and artist David McGill, with McGill’s sculpture Stele:Seal, placed near the Hutt River mouth.

Wellington artist Duncan Sergent, left, and Allan Brown of Lower Hutt's E Tu Awakairangi Sculpture Trust, with Sergent's work Untie This, which is sited along a walkway by Waiwehtu Stream.

Wellington artist Duncan Sergent, left, and Allan Brown of Lower Hutt’s E Tu Awakairangi Sculpture Trust, with Sergent’s work Untie This, which is sited along a walkway by Waiwehtu St

Untie This is placed just a little east of the Pelorus Trust sports House, which is already home to Aiko Groot’s towering CUBE4 sculpture.

The new work consists of a totara plank trapped in a web of orange aluminium struts in the shape of a geodesic dome.  At nearly 3m in diameter, it’s twice the size of the version Sergent made for shapeshifter.

It highlights the contrasts between man-made and natural: shiny and smooth versus roughhewn.

“You can still see the marks of the tools on the totara,” said Sergent, who grew up in the Hutt and whose grandparents lived by Waiwhetu Stream.

Sergent has exhibited at every shapeshifter held and has been accepted for the next one in 2016.

McGill’s Stele:Seal – a small pillar of closely interlocking, hand chiselled/grinded andesite stone sits at the Hutt River mouth.  The words ‘salt’ and ‘water’ are carved in mirror/backwards formation and as McGill explained to the launch function audience on Wednesday, if it were to be picked up and stamped like a seal, the words would appear as we normally read.

The stone came from Taranaki – home of the Hutt Valley’s tangata whenua Te Atiawa – in huge slabs.

McGill said he had long been fascinated by the interlocking stonework of the Inca people, the gaps so close between the pieces one could barely slip a blade between them.

Stele:Seal marries the primary element of water, crucial to all life, and salt, from the sweat of toil and from sayings such as ‘worth one’s salt.”

“It’s ecology and humanity – that’s my reading of it.’

McGill said he had stood near his first version of Stele:Seal at shapeshifter and listened in as people came up with entirely different interpretations, “and that’s fine.”

“People can find their own way into it.”

E Tu Awakairangi has given notice more works are on the way for the Waiwhetu trail, including a 5.5 m tall sculpture on the Seaview roundabout that will reference the feathers of the white faced heron, or ripples on water.

A pou is being carved by Waiwhetu elder Teri Puketapu, and a sculpture by Barry Te Whetu will incorporate 3 – metre metal rollers that were used at the old Griffins biscuit factory to crush coconut.