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Gibbs Farm - An Amazing Opportunity For The Girls' School

March 09, 2015 at 11:18 AM

Visiting the monumental sculptures at the world class, privately-owned Gibbs Farm on the banks of the Kaipara Harbour is a chance that few New Zealanders have the opportunity to experience. Open for viewing on only eight scheduled visitor days a year, there is generally a waiting list to visit this outstanding sculpture trail that is home to some of New Zealand’s leading, large scale, contemporary artworks.

Very generously, Alan Gibbs offered the Girls’ School a rare fundraising opportunity, allowing a significant number of people the chance to wander the expansive farmland, taking in the coastal scenery and the amazing collection of artwork that follows the flow of land to the sea.Such is the scale of the some of the works, they are large enough to be seen from satellite images at high magnification!

Organised as the School’s major fundraiser for 2015, three determined parents, Shelley Horton, Deborah Higgins and Kim McGregor set about organising the logistics of the day with very helpful assistance from the Farm Manager, Mr Andrew Mills. The Saint Kentigern social network rolled into action and in a huge show of support for the Girls’ School, the event was soon a sell-out, attracting the wider Saint Kentigern community and beyond.

A pre-requisite for the day out was comfortable walking shoes as the art trail covers over four kilometres of rolling terrain, taking a good three hours to complete. A detailed map enabled the visitors to amble from gigantic sculpture to sculpture at their own pace, making the most of this rare opportunity. In addition to the artworks, many were surprised to discover the park is also home to free-ranging wildlife including bison, zebras, alpacas, ostriches and giraffes.

To explain more about the works, informative talks were given at three of the sculptures by Dr Oliver Stead of the Wallace Arts Trust. Dr Stead is a New Zealand art historian and writer who has worked with cultural heritage collections for more than 30 years.

His talks covered Jeff Thompson’s ‘Giraffe,’ a towering sculpture that overlooks live giraffes below; Anish Kapoor’s ‘Dismemberment, Site 1,’ a bright red sculpture which at 85m long and up to 25m high is said to link ‘the body into the sky;’ and Richard Serra’s Te Tuhirangi Contour,’ 56 joined steel plates that form a single line following the contour of the land.

With the sun shining, albeit very windy, this was a relaxing day to walk the farmland and muse over contemporary artworks, with the chance to stop in family groups to enjoy a picnic lunch. Many had taken the opportunity to pre-order the tasty family picnic hamper, and the cool drinks for sale and an ice cream stop were welcomed by many at the half way point!

We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to Alan Gibbs for allowing the Girls’ School access to his land and art collection for this amazing fundraising opportunity. We are truly grateful.

Our three parents, Shelley, Deborah and Kim are to be applauded for their efficiency and attention to detail to ensure the event ran smoothly and was thoroughly enjoyed by all. We are extremely pleased to report that through their tenacity and the support of many, the Girls’ School raised in excess of $60,000 to be invested in building a new junior playground for the girls in Years 1-3. The need for an additional playground has become evident as the School roll, pleasingly, continues to grow.

We also thank parent, Mr Greg Horton for arranging access; Boys’ School staff, Chris Haar and Duncan Grant for driving the minivans all day; members of the College 1st XV who, along with many other parent helpers, took on a multitude of duties during the course of the day and helped clear up at the end.

Principal, Dr Sandra Hastie, is often heard to say that the Girls’ School is ‘small but mighty!’ The Gibbs Farm day out was yet another mighty fundraising effort from a small school community who are tenacious enough to make it happen! Thank you to all who came in support!

GIBBS FARM

Seldom open to the public, the 1,000-acre windswept farm that sits on the banks of the Kaipara Harbour is an unusual setting for a permanent, outdoor sculpture collection that features works by national and internationally renowned artists.  

Entrepreneur and businessman, Alan Gibbs, purchased the property in 1991 and has become one of New Zealand’s leading art collectors. With a 30 year prior history of collecting mainly paintings, Gibbs further extended his collection by amassing a range of sculptures of a scale rarely seen. Many of the 25 sculptures were commissioned as site-specific works that interact strongly with the landscape, harbour and ever changing light making a lasting impression on visitors to the Farm.  Gibbs acknowledges that, ‘The challenge for the artists is the scale of the landscape; it scares them initially.’

After more than two decades, Gibbs Farm now includes major works by Graham Bennett, Chris Booth, Daniel Buren, Bill Culbert, Neil Dawson, Marijke de Goey, Andy Goldsworthy, Ralph Hotere, Anish Kapoor, Sol LeWitt, Len Lye, Russell Moses, Peter Nicholls, Eric Orr, Tony Oursler, George Rickey, Peter Roche, Richard Serra, Kenneth Snelson, Richard Thompson, Leon van den Eijkel and Zhan Wang.

For more information about Gibbs Farm and the art collection visit their website: www.gibbsfarm.org.nz

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