Flying up to the chalet on Albert Burn Saddle in strong winds we had just settled in when the rain set in for the rest of day. The peaks have been shrouded in cloud ever since. Not wanting to waste a minute up here on our Artists Residency Philippa and I dragged our wheelbarrow up the steep snow grass to the site for a rock sculpture on a high rock bluff.
Our Idea was to use the barrow to collect flat rocks from the scree slope below a huge cliff, thus saving the back breaking work of carrying them. Unfortunately the terrain proved too steep and dangerous to traverse with the barrow and lugging the rock was the only way.
After several hours in high winds and rain we had gathered enough to make a start on the sculpture. It was crucial to get a stable base otherwise the progressively heavy structure could topple down the bluff.
A very stormy night brought clearer weather on Saturday with temporary patches of sunlight bursting through cloud and giving glimpses of the glaciers and peaks of Rob Roy and Mt Avalanche. We made two sculptures for the Watershed Project before the weather deteriorated again.
Today the weather proved better and we were able to put in a full day on the rock sculpture which is now beginning to be visible from the Chalet.
Rain and mist have now closed in but if the forecast is correct we may have clear views of Mt Aspiring tomorrow.
We are moving into autumn here in Wanaka – perfect conditions for us to work on the next stage of the “Watershed Project”.
On Easter Friday we helicopter up to Whare Kea Chalet opposite Mt Aspiring on Albert Burn Saddle to embark on the second part of the Kenneth Myer Artist and Writers Alpine Retreat.
Since we began the project Philippa and I have created more than 20 works about the relationship between human systems and the water cycle. These works and others still to be produced will become an exhibition to be shown in Australia and in New Zealand.
Making this body of work has become a significant event for us and I am hopeful that it will be seen by as many people as possible.
Working in our local mountain landscapes that we know and love gives us a tremendous sense of belonging and we hope this comes through in the work we make.
It is six months since we left Albert Burn Saddle in deep snow conditions. Now it will be bereft of snow until the first storms begin to fill the gullies again. Now there will be tussock, snowgrass and bare rock to walk over, but Mt Aspiring will be wearing its cloak of icy glaciers until the climate warms enough to finally take them.
In the summer months we have been busy making works at lower altitudes in the valleys about the water system.
We have encountered floods that nearly flooded our town of Wanaka and caused much track damage in the river valleys where the immense force of the rushing water undermined river banks, causing land slides that took full size beech trees downstream. Since then a full scale drought set in which has damaged farm crops and set records for low rainfall.
Is this what we can expect from now on?
We will be posting reports on our and progress on the project over the next two weeks.
I hope you enjoy the process as much as we will.