Massive moving artwork to front new theatre

MOVING ART: Sculptor Grant Williams at his East Tamaki, Auckland, workshop pictured with his kinetic sculpture to be installed outside Marlborough’s new civic theatre.
MOVING ART: Sculptor Grant Williams at his East Tamaki, Auckland, workshop pictured with his kinetic sculpture to be installed outside Marlborough’s new civic theatre.

A vibrant green moving sculpture will grace the front of Marlborough's new multimillion-dollar ASB Theatre.

Eminent New Zealand sculptor Grant Williams has crafted the piece which will be installed early next week.

Featuring a series of leaf pods that represent both leaves and seeds, Williams says the inspiration came from Marlborough's spring and new growth.

The unnamed work is a kinetic wind sculpture made from fibreglass over stainless steel and stands at an impressive 10 metres high and nearly 10 metres wide.

"To fit the site it needed to be tall and to scale," Williams said.

"It is so big that I needed to move to a bigger studio in Auckland to allow room for a gantry crane to move the parts around."

Last night Williams finished painting the sculpture.

It is Williams' largest kinetic work to date. At five times the size of his other works, the handcrafted piece took more than a year to make.

It will sit on a grass mound outside the theatre near the bank of the Taylor River and it is hoped people will sit down and relax and look up at the moving parts and clouds.

"I wanted to get away from the mechanical and create a piece more in keeping with the environment. I like the way it changes people's consciousness."

The sculpture was carefully weighted to make sure it moved in the most gentle of breezes, but still moved slowly in Marlborough's high winds.

"Deliberately strong footings mean the sculpture can be flooded in 4 metres of water, up to the height of the stopbanks and beneath the height of the sculpture's moving parts," Williams said.

The work's vibrant green tone was chosen to complement and stand out against the surrounding grass and trees.

Williams planned to name the work once he gauged public reaction, he said. "I like to name my sculptures after they have been installed to get a true sense of the life of the piece."

Williams was approached by the Marlborough-based Dorothy Coulthard Arts Trust to create the sculpture, after trustee Willie Crosse saw one of Williams' sculptures at Michael Hill's The Hills golf course near Arrowtown.

Crosse said the sculpture was being gifted to Marlborough and would enrich the Taylor River precinct.

Dorothy Coulthard, a trained architect, lived in Blenheim and left a bequest for art projects in Marlborough when she died in 2007.

The sculpture would complement the kinetic sculpture erected in January in the nearby Marlborough Lines Park and effectively create the beginnings of a sculpture walk along the Taylor River, Crosse, a cousin of Coulthard, said.

"Her legacy is providing visible benefits for the region's arts," he said.

The Marlborough Express