Monthly Archives: April 2012

Leaf Fall

April 30, 2012

Installing a new commissioned sculpture is always a rewarding experience and this new work was no exception.
The clients, an Australian couple who spend some of each year at their property in Wanaka provided an open brief to respond to their site.
Their house nestles into the side of a hill in a rural setting overlooking Wanaka with a view up the Matukituki valley to the glaciers of Mt Aspiring and Avalanche Peak in the far distance
The land has been terraced with a series of dry stone retaining walls, the terraces falling steeply away to an olive grove.
Shielded by tall deciduous trees to the south and planted with many fruit trees and shrubs the landscape is a very leafy place.
Visiting the sculpture site in early autumn the leaves were already turning from their summer green hues to a diverse range of yellows oranges and burnt reds.
The surrounding tussock hills shone golden yellow after a prolonged dry summer.
The autumn colours in this southern region are a strong feature of this landscape and I decided to make a sculpture that celebrates this seasonal transformation as the trees go through the process of shedding their foliage for winter.
Wind blown autumn leaves have a strong symbolism that I wanted to capture. The way they catch the sunlight as they twirl reminds me of the endless cycle of life.
The sculpture is made from two rusted circular discs of corten steel each cut with the identical shapes of many falling leaves. Set slightly apart on hidden spacers, the holes from which the leaf shapes have been cut reveal either light or shadow depending on the angle of view. The sculpture is mounted on a rotating central spindle which enables it to be turned by hand or even a strong wind. As the sculpture turns the leaf shapes move and change.


Leaf Fall sculpture Video

Capturing the moment

April 8, 2012

The combination of clear skies and no wind for several days provided an opportunity to visit my favorite alpine landscape to create new works. Philippa and I climbed up to the Cascade Saddle area in Mt Aspiring National Park and camped for two glorious starry nights.


Finding just the right snow-fed tarn late on the first afternoon, I went to work wading out to make a simple work by floating dry tussock stems. To avoid disturbing the water’s surface meant staying motionless while controlling both the sculpture and the camera.


The sun dipped below the ridge after a few minutes, throwing shadows across my efforts, but I had captured the moment when it all came together as I had planned. The south west ridge of Mt Aspiring beyond – the site of my personal climbing tragedy – draws the eye between the light of the west face down which John fell and the shadow of the south face, and is reflected in the still surface of the tarn. The warm sunlight brought the sculpture alive against the inky shadows of the water. This sublime scene reminds me how delicate and precious life is.


After a freezing night the dawn ushered in another perfect day. Finding remnant frozen snow patches provided the material for another fleeting sculpture. Once placed in the tarn the snow sculpture soon melted, but again I had caught its reflected form along with the high peaks.  The image resonates with me about our changing climate and the world’s disappearing ice.


The rest of the day was spent exploring this delicate alpine world high above the Matukituki and Dart Valleys before climbing back up to the ridge above the Matukituki to camp and make a final sculpture from some of the many flat schist rocks.