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September 2007


FEATURES

Down at the Farm
Text and photographs by Helen Klisser During

AN ART ADVISOR AND CURATOR, THE FORMER DIRECTOR OF SILVERMINE GUILD ARTS CENTER GIVES CTC&G AN EXCLUSIVE TOUR OF ONE OF THE WORLD'S MOST ASTOUNDING SCULPTURE PARKS

[Image]

The largest Richard Serra sculpture in the world—a 20-foot-tall, 843-foot-long ribbon of Cor-Ten steel, roughly the length of two-and-a-half football fields—is located not in America, Europe or any of the dozens of cities worldwide that are now hosting biennial art fairs. Instead, it snakes through the emerald green pastureland of The Farm, a private, 1,000-acre sculpture park and environmental preserve at the edge of Kaipara Harbor, on the North Island of New Zealand. The dream of a fellow countryman of mine, The Farm has never been open to the public except for occasional special events, and has been visited mainly by the handful of international artists who have been invited to create works there.

Like the other 30 sculptures on The Farm, Serra's Te Tuhirangi Contour is site specific. It is made up of 56 enormous plates that follow the rolling contour of the landscape. Sheep continuously rub up against the rusty, red steel, so much so that they've left an off-white band along the base of the sculpture. They do so because the panels list 11 degrees from vertical, providing a serendipitous shelter from the elements.

The sheep are one of the 30 species of animals, including alpaca, yak, emu, giraffes and rare varieties of cattle, that have been introduced to the land since the first 400 acres of The Farm were purchased in 1991. (A second parcel was bought several years later.) Over the years, the owner has also planted indigenous flora (to replace the failing, non-native deciduous trees brought in by a former caretaker) and nurtured the seasonal flocking of godwits and other native birds whose migratory path includes the mudflats at the water's edge.

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