Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to eyeCONTACT, a forum built to encourage art reviews and critical discussion about the visual culture of Aotearoa New Zealand. I'm John Hurrell its editor, a New Zealand writer, artist and curator. While Creative New Zealand and other supporters are generously paying me and other contributors to review exhibitions over the following year, all expressed opinions are entirely our own.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A couple of Larus dominicanus and one Larus bulleri

A couple of Larus dominicanus and one Larus bulleri
Kate Newby and Nick Austin: Hold Still
Te Rimu Tahi / Western Park, Ponsonby
Sat 30 August 2008 (9 am - 9 pm)
A One Day Sculpture Event

It’s a lovely treat to be tricked into exploring the ferny bushy gullies of Western Park, while checking out the art – despite it being a bitterly cold (but at least dry) day.

Austin and Newby’s installation is a lot of fun, even if you are not interested in little bush walks. From the circular viewing platform (see top photo) they’ve set up a couple of bird watching telescopes on tripods. From a distance you can observe three tirelessly standing Black Backed and Black Beaked Gulls, cheekily perched on two nearby picnic tables. Furthermore you can saunter down the paths and get a closer peek. They seem to like people coming up and peering at them. They don’t flinch a bit. Maybe ornithology is a big thing in Ponsonby.

There is a meaning I’d like to propose for all this: the viewing platform is called Arohanui: still an abundance of love.

Abundance of love? Here is what it says on a small plaque:
Mauri tu, mauri ora, mauri noho, mauri mate.
Those who choose to stand will live; those who choose to do nothing will perish.

The text seems to be an attack on pacifism. Maybe it was put there in the seventies during the Vietnam War. If you think the gulls are stuffed (actually they're are not, they are fabricated), well think about it. They chose ‘to stand’, and look where it got them. In this world it's the quick and the dead. Standing still is definitely unwise.

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