The grass is greener, and arty

TOOLED UP: German artist Ralf Witthaus surveys his next project at Auckland Botanic Gardens.
Simon Watts
TOOLED UP: German artist Ralf Witthaus surveys his next project at Auckland Botanic Gardens.

Cutting grass is a chore most people would rather forget, but for Ralf Witthaus it's art.

The world-renowned lawn artist has visited the Auckland Botanic Gardens to scope out his next project The Borehole to New Zealand, a 100 metre square lawn art installation.

It's part of the German's latest project the International Lawn Show which will span the globe.

A mirror image of the installation will be created in his homeland at the same time.

And it's all the result of a lifetime fascination with a popular childhood myth.

“As a seven-year-old I asked my father where I would end up if I dug a hole through the earth and he said ‘New Zealand'.

"So I came here to find out and now look, I'm standing upside down."

The installation, which is scheduled for October, will take 20 people 800 man-hours over five days to create.

Joining Mr Witthaus will be an eclectic team of re- tired German professionals dressed in suits - the artist's standard work attire. But he's also keen to recruit local volunteers.

"These days I don't even know if drawing is my artwork or what is happening during the performance."

It all started in 1998 when as a student he created a 550m female sculpture made from earth.

"Grass is here because human beings are here. We cut it and it lives," the 39-year-old says.

His biggest project is a 7km-long lawn drawing around the city of Cologne.

"Normally an artist makes something, puts it in the gallery and leaves. But my work is different. People come to me with their feelings about the work. They watch me for days before asking if I have permission.

"And after five minutes it's a different situation and they say ‘OK, good. I'll see you tomorrow'."

Manukau Courier