Works of whispering windgrass

ERIN KAVANAGH-HALL
Last updated 05:00 15/12/2012
Konstantin Dimopoulos
PIERS FULLER/Fairfax NZ
Konstantin Dimopoulos in Clifford Square, Featherston, with his sculpture Windgrass.

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Konstantin Dimopoulos' striking and thought-provoking art works have been exhibited all over the world, but his latest work is inspired by his Kiwi upbringing.

The Wellingtonian, now based in Melbourne, launched his towering new sculpture, Windgrass, in Featherston's Clifford Square recently.

The 8.5-metre tall brown and yellow creation pays homage to the grasses of the south Wairarapa coastline, a place the artist often visited as a young man.

''It represents the bulrushes of the Wairarapa area,'' says Dimopoulos, an Egyptian-born Greek who was raised in Wellington.

''We used to visit Lake Ferry and go to White Rock and the Bombora for surfing. So I've grown up with the native flora and fauna.

''The idea was to enlarge the bulrushes to give them a towering effect. When you enlarge something, people see it in a completely different light.''

The sculpture is designed to move with the wind - a recurring theme for Dimopoulos, whose first major sculpture, Pacific Grass, was made in response to Wellington's famous wind.

''There's lots of wind on the Wairarapa coast, which helped with the surf,'' says Dimopoulos, who used a high-performance composite material to make Windgrass.

''The sculpture chatters when it moves and creates shadows. It's quite magical to stand and watch it move and create patterns.''

Dimopoulos spent 10 days in Wairarapa working on Windgrass, which was commissioned by the Aratoi Foundation, the fundraising arm of the Aratoi Museum of Art and History.

He says the Featherston community's response to the sculpture has been mostly positive, but for some residents, the tall and imposing piece has taken some getting used to.

''One of the guys who helped me out said, 'It's definitely growing on me.' Art is like that. It's there to provoke, to create discussion as well as to create an aesthetic in a space.''

Dimopoulos' career as an artist has spanned more than 30 years, starting at the Chelsea College of Art and Design in London in 1978.

He has since gone on to exhibit his art internationally, with public sculptures in collections around the United States and Australia, and to create art installations in response to social issues.

Most notable of these is The Blue Trees, which is appearing in many North American cities.

The Blue Trees, in which he colours trees with a biologically safe blue pigment, was designed to raise awareness of deforestation.

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''Art can be an incredibly powerful tool. It helps us get the issue of deforestation on to the front cover of a magazine, not the back pages.''

He is now working on a project called Purple Rain, which comments on homelessness.

Dimopoulos returns to New Zealand next month install a sculpture for Sculpture On The Gulf on Waiheke Island.

- The Dominion Post

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