Saturday was fine and sunny after a hard freeze overnight. We found that the ice on the tarns was thick enough to work with, so we quickly set about extracting a large sheet and carving it to shape to be placed in the centre of the tarn.
By then It was getting warm so we worked very fast before the ice melted. Just as I was carrying the sculpture into place it broke in half. We set to and made a similar shape from the largest remaining piece and quickly installed it in the shallow tarn. I had to cut a path through the ice and wade in to the middle of the tarn to get the camera angle I wanted. Although the sun was getting higher now the image worked and I made the photograph. The sculpture collapsed shortly after.
The fine weather was what we needed for completing the rock sphere and it was good to finally place the capstone and view its final spherical shape.
Sunday was equally fine and we had visitors arriving for lunch by helicopter from Whare Kea Lodge. We all dined on the terrace and then some joined us in walking up to the sculpture on the bluff where Philippa and I stayed to put finishing touches to it.
The day ended with a glorious sunset the clouds deep red beyond Mt Aspiring.
Most of yesterday we remained inside while the snowstorm transformed the landscape to white. Summer is over. By 4pm the snow stopped and the cloud began to lift. I headed up the snow covered bluff to work on the rock sculpture.
It was very beautiful with everything covered in fresh snow, but it made it more difficult to collect rocks and increased the danger of slipping and falling off the edge while working. As the sun went down through the swirling clouds around Mt Aspiring everything became golden.
A clear cold night brought a cloudless dawn today. We are off to work.
We have been up here on Albert Burn Saddle for a week now and feel quite at home. We are familiar with the extreme changes as fronts come through and then clear.
Yesterday morning it was -5 degrees C and there was a lot of ice in the streams, waterfalls and tarns. Of course this also meant our water system froze up. Under clear skies the peaks shone. A frozen tarn, with some coaxing, became a sculptural medium, while frozen waterfalls hung like stalactites from dark cliffs.
We had another visit – this time from Martyn Myer, a friend and a couple of young guests from Whare Kea Lodge who had been flown up to Dragonfly Peak and were walking back down the East Matukituki. They checked out our half built rock sphere on the bluff above the Chalet and departed after a cup of tea and a chat.
Walking across this rolling alpine highland is a joy with flowers and plants coated in ice and kea circling above. It’s such a contrast to our winter experience here when these mountainsides were all under metres of snow.
Working with rock and water is challenging but works are coming together for the exhibition in Melbourne. Today there is no wind so we will be attempting to complete the Rock Sphere up on the bluff. Correction: it is now snowing heavily with a strong southerly, more like winter.
f11 magazine has published a full profile and portfolio of my work in their April edition. f11 is a high quality online magazine for photographers and aficionados.
I am not strictly a photographer – the art I practice is sculpture and my photography is its documentation, but I am honored to grace the pages of this carefully crafted publication by Tim Steele that regularly features the work of local and international photographers with diverse portfolios.
Check it out and sign up – it’s free.
Ice Circle- featured on f11 home page
Day five and a southerly storm has grounded us again. After a clear starry night when everything froze creating magical ice patterns on the small tarns.
The wind and rain arrived mid morning as we were working on the rock sphere on the bluff. The wind gusted so strongly it threatened to blow us off the edge of the cliff on which we were handling the large rocks.
Yesterday was the only fine clear day so after a flying visit from our patrons Martyn and Louise Myer during which Martyn joined us lugging big rocks off the mountainside for more construction, we hiked over to explore streams and waterfalls at the head of the Albert Burn. One waterfall has several spectacular tiers and should make a site for a work when the weather allows.
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.
I have just completed and delivered a new permanent sculpture to Art Bay Gallery in Queenstown. It follows the theme I began to explore in “Cyclic Flow” for Sculpture in Central Otago exhibition in 2011. (see below)
This corten steel sculpture entitled “In the Balance” also refers to cyclical systems.
Three corten steel rings sit in space one above the other at different angles. They appear to be unsupported but they are joined to each other at a single point giving the impression that they are frozen in time like a multi exposure photograph of a single spinning coin.
The improbability of its form is intended to unsettle and disturb, raising the question: How can this be?
The idea is based upon nature’s fundamental operating principle of interdependent systems in dynamic balance, where breaking the relationships between the systems collapses the whole.
I have made the work in three sizes, from 2 metres to half a metre in height. These works and “Cyclic Flow” are all available for sale by contacting me.
In the Balance – Video of the sculpture coming to life when nudged
Cyclic Flow, at Rippon Vineyard 2011
I can think of no better way to get away from Christmas madness than cast off on a three day tramp into alpine valleys with good friends.
Good weather, pristine mountain wilderness and curiosity were all we needed for a great adventure. None of us had entered South Temple valley before so all was new and delightful and even the river crossings with our friends’ nine year old daughter Sammy posed no problems.
Climbing a seven pitch rock climb on a buttress of Steeple Peak was a different story for Dave Newstead and I on the second day. With no detailed route description we got off route onto some very loose rock but eventually made our way safely to the summit in time to race back to camp just on dark for a welcome dinner and camp fire made by Philippa and Jeong-hee
In previous years there have been several international calendars published featuring my environmental sculptures. For 2013 a German company that specialises in high quality large format calendars have published a very fine product featuring twelve sculptures that I am pleased to advise is also available online.
The company is Ackermann and Stephan Schlieker the art director and I have worked together to select the images. Stephan’s design presents the images in a beautiful format that is not overshadowed by the dates.
We are currently working on another edition of Earth to Earth calendar featuring a further twelve images for 2014.
2013 Earth to Earth calendar can be viewed and purchased here