26 March 2014

The 2014 Whittaker’s Big Egg Hunt: Auckland, part 2

After two more days of pounding the pavements of inner-city Auckland, my feet are sore, my Kathmandu sandals are cracking up under the pressure and I’m hoping I’ve shed a couple of pounds but it has been worth it, as I now have photos of all this year’s 46 Auckland Big Eggs in the bag! And there are some cracking eggs (pun intended!) amongst them.

So, following on from my blog on the first Auckland 23, here’s my take on the second 23. If only I could get to Wellington and Christchurch to see the other 54! As with the last post, much of the information about these works has been adapted from the official website.The opinions, of course, are entirely my own.

2 Andrew Barrie, New (Urban) Life
This is a brilliant idea from Auckland-based designer and Professor of Design at the University of Auckland’s School of Architecture and Planning, Andrew Barrie. The surface of the egg is plain but the cut reveals a miniature urban landscape, complete with tiny people, like a snapshot of New Zealand architecture from early colonial days to more modern times. To me, the simplicity and clean lines of his design reflects Barrie’s years of study and work in Japan.

12 Colin Mathura-Jeffree, Gondwana
Here my ignorance of New Zealand’s reality television shows and media personalities becomes apparent as I’d never heard of Colin Mathura-Jeffree before – apparently, he is ‘an international model, actor and TV personality who is known as the wild-haired, lamington-throwing judge on New Zealand’s Next Top Model and who consistently created a stir in the New Zealand’s Hottest Home Baker TV series’. Before becoming a ‘personality’, he had ambitions towards a career in paleontology, hence the design of his egg. This egg has been perfectly sited in the ‘Weird and wonderful’ area in Auckland Museum and was a huge favourite with the kids when I was there yesterday.

15 David Trubridge, Nest
David Trubridge is an internationally-recognised designer, who sailed (literally) from studies in naval architecture in the UK to establishing a life for himself and his family in New Zealand. His website showcases his very organic designs – the idea behind his kit-set products is to minimise their ‘environmental footprint while also involving the consumer in the creation process’. His egg hangs in the very posh Louis Vuitton shop in Queen Street, a place I would never normally enter – not that you have to push open the door for yourself – a doorman is employed to do that for you. I felt very inadequately dressed for the experience!

25 Fletcher Vaughan, Haven't Been The Same Since
The website tells me: ‘Founder and creative director of Fletcher Systems, a furniture brand and production company with more than 10 years of manufacturing experience, Fletcher Vaughan draws on his experience working in the music, television and film industries to create eye-catching yet practical furniture, and more recently public sculpture.’ I would say Vaughan is drawing on memories of nursery rhymes for his egg – looks like Humpty Dumpty gone wrong to me!

26 Garry Nash, Gestation Of Intent
Garry Nash is an Australian, turned New Zealander, and a glass artist of such repute that he was awarded Officer of The New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to glass art in 2001. His glass works are certainly extraordinary – take a look at his website for a visual feast. In comparison, I found his egg very disappointing – a few zigzag cut-outs in the outer shell and lighting tubes inside didn’t excite me at all.

30 Gregor Kregar, Ovum-polis
After studying fine arts first in his native Slovenia and later at the Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland, Kregar has gone on to exhibit widely in New Zealand and internationally. His often large-scale and site-specific sculptures incorporate found objects alongside glass, stainless steel and plastic. His idea here is a clever one, his Ovum-polis showing the roosters convening for a meeting on the egg-acropolis.

32 Flox, Womb
I really like Hayley (aka Flox) King’s work but the setting for this piece, tucked away alongside the main entrance inside the Viaduct Events Centre, is appalling – you can’t fully appreciate Hayley’s wonderful stencill work and you certainly can’t get good photos of the work. (Seriously, Big Egg Hunt organisers – you need to do something about the setting for these pieces next time around!) Flocks (hence, Flox?) of Hayley’s trademark native birds can be ‘found flying across city streets, breathing life into the urban environment and creating joyous celebrations of natural New Zealand’. Her egg is inspired by her own pregnancy, the womb being a safe container for the egg. For more of Hayley’s works, check out her website.

33 Hye Rim Lee, Crowned
Here’s another egg that was difficult to photograph – shop windows do not make for good display spaces! So, all I can say is that it looked a lovely pale lilac colour – as to the rest, the website says: ‘Hye Rim Lee is a Korean New Zealand artist currently working in Seoul, New York and Auckland. … Lee’s photos and video installations tell a fantasy tale based on an intermingling of Eastern and Western popular culture and the study of new technologies and how they influence tradition. …  Lee discusses the changing roles of women, in particular Asian women, focusing on the rise of new technology and contemporary mythmaking, which in turn leads to a heightened interest in Western consumerism and beauty ideals.’

37 Jeff Thomson, Red
Jeff Thomson’s artworks are well known to most New Zealanders – from his gigantic gumboot in Taihape to his Holden stationwagon at Te Papa, his corrugated-iron sculptures come in all shapes and sizes and are symbolic of the quintessential New Zealander artist with the good old ‘number 8 wire’ philosophy, using found materials to create art. I love the bright red colour of this, I love the way light plays across the curves of the metal, I love how tactile it is.

42 John Pule, The One and Only
Niuean New Zealander John Pule is an accomplished painter, printmaker, poet and writer. Though he was only two when his family immigrated to New Zealand, his work is informed and inspired by the history and mythology of Niue, adapting traditional art forms and motifs to create Pacific-inspired but highly original artworks. The setting for John’s egg, in the marine section of Auckland Museum, is simply perfect, as the pure blues of the piece and the ambient lighting combine with the museum specimens to produce a visual delight for the egg-hunter.

47 Karl Maughan, Egmont
I have been and always will be a gardener and garden admirer so I find Karl Maughan’s huge hyper-real paintings of lush gardens and native fauna – flower gardens, vegetable gardens, manicured bushes and out-of-control wildernesses – totally charming. I’m not sure the same concept works on a huge egg but his work is certainly immediately recognisable. This is another work displayed in a window, in this case the four-window Britomart Project Space, so apologies for the poor photographic reproduction with its background traffic design!

48 Karley Feaver, Homage to Spring
Here’s another nature-inspired egg, this time from New Plymouth-born artist Karley Feaver. She works across a range of disciplines including painting, sculpture and photography, exploring the symbolic nature, adaptation and transformation of animals in art with, perhaps a little bizarrely, a keen interest in taxidermy. If that intrigues you as much as it intrigues me, take a look at her website. Not that there’s any taxidermy on her egg – at least, I don’t think her butterflies were once alive! This poor egg is in the worst possible place – it is actually inside a wedge-shaped area that forms part of the revolving door into the Viaduct Events Centre. So, to see it, you have to walk around inside the door, following the egg as you both revolve, trying not to trip over as you bend down to look at it.

53 Louise Purvis, Nest Egg
It took me a while to find this egg and, in the end, I asked a staff member at the Auckland Art Gallery. It hangs outside but high up under the magnificent wooden ceiling of the new gallery extension, so you can’t actually get a good look at it. New Zealand artist Louise Purvis works primarily in stone and metals – I presume this is the latter.

54 Lyonel Grant, Tamariki
Lyonel Grant, Te Arawa and Ngati Pikiao, is a gifted sculptor, master carver and designer working in many media including stone, wood, bronze, glass, ceramics and paint. I admire the precise symmetrical lines of his work  he uses traditional Maori motifs but reworks them to form a piece that is striking and contemporary.

56 Matt Ellwood, El Salvador
Matt Ellwood is a senior lecturer at Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design and has exhibited widely in New Zealand, Australia, New York and Switzerland. The Big Hunt website says he ‘employs the various vocabularies of current advertising, outdated men’s magazines, and toy merchandising as abundant resources for appropriation-based sculptures, drawings, and digital interventions’ - though I can't see those influences in his egg design. Sadly, this is another window-displayed piece which has proven difficult to photograph.

63 Nigel Brown, Egglantia
A full-time artist since 1978, Nigel Brown has exhibited in locations as diverse as Scott Base in Antarctica and the New Zealand Embassy in Moscow. He describes himself as an expressive realist or symbolic expressionist, and is inspired by Maori, Pacific Island and Aboriginal art as well as the European exploration and settlement of the South Pacific. The avian designs on his egg are a perfect match for its setting alongside the New Zealand bird displays in Auckland Museum.

65 Paul Cullen, Ladder
As Paul Cullen’s egg is displayed in the window of real estate agency Barfoot and Thompson, the inclusion of a ladder in his design seems the ideal match. Cullen’s sculptures are usually constructed from such accessible materials as stones, sticks, pieces of glass, string, paper, balsa wood and rag, items which satisfy perfectly ‘his need to make things: to work in and with space, to plan and organise something with a direct and physical outcome’.

68 Regan Gentry, Flamebuoyant
Sculptor Regan Gentry uses a wide range of materials and situations in his work, which is characterised by a playful musing and using of material, language, location and structure. He says: “The phrases, materials and circumstances I employ in my works are chosen for their familiarity and well-established usage in our lives’. This stone egg sits in a shallow pool in front of the Auckland Art Gallery, the perfect fire-proof setting as there is a series of lit burners directing red-hot jets of flame at the underside of this piece. I preferred the contrast between the egg’s stony surface and the smooth painted wall of the gallery, so have cropped the burners out of my shot.

71 XXX XXXXXX, Too Many Salads
XXXXXX’s egg (above) is covered with images of domestic items – a vase, bottle, jug, teapot – so has been very appropriately situated between display cases of historic ceramics in Auckland Museum. XXXXXX has this to say, ‘A lot of the artwork that I have previously produced has been purchased by private clients and hung in a domestic setting. This really interests me, because the artwork is taken out of the vacuum of the gallery and placed back in a context where household objects interact and interweave with the work.’ (See below re XXXXXX)

79 Saatchi & Saatchi Design, Chicken or the Egg
I guess someone had to do it, plaster an egg with feathers and ask the age-old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg. Saatchi & Saatchi Design Worldwide is an independent design group operating globally within the Saatchi network, and they believe ‘design is about bringing ideas to life’. Not exactly hugely imaginative but tick!

80 Shane Hansen, Aroha
I’m not exactly sure what a huge pair of antlers has to do with Aroha, but Hansen says the love of life and for New Zealand with its Maori culture and unique flora and fauna is a huge inspiration and recurring subject of his work. Hansen is of Maori, Chinese, Danish and Scottish descent so I guess all of that ancestry has played its part in influencing this design.

87 Misery, Jerboa Egg
With its gloriously vivid colours, its smiling flowers and cute creatures, I’m sure this is a favourite with younger egg-hunters – it certainly made me smile. Misery is the graffiti street art and fashion label of Australian Tanja Jade Thompson, who has held international exhibitions in Berlin, Taiwan, Melbourne, Paris and Los Angeles.

90 Virginia King, Wing And A Prayer
Though its window setting meant it was difficult to fully appreciate the delicacy and precision of Virginia King’s creation, I quite liked the contrast of her fluid, organic sculpture with the lines and angles of the brickwork and the reflection of the scaffolding enveloping the building on the other side of Customs Street. She wants her work to focus on “bringing attention to the fragility of the environment and the delicate balance between sustainability and progress”, and I think this egg does that very well.

An update
Look who I found in the meat section at the local supermarket today. British illustrator Martin Handford has a lot to answer for with his Wally character (or Waldo, if you’re North American). Is there anyone in the world who’s not familiar with Wally and his distinctive red-and-white-striped jumper? In this case, Wally is like the joker in the Whittaker’s Big Egg Hunt, moving to different locations each day and worth more points than all the other eggs. Nailed!

A second update re number 71 Too many salads by XXX XXXXXX
The artist contacted me and asked that his work be removed from my blog because he wanted a Google search to highlight his current work and it seems my little blog has received too much exposure and so was ranking higher in Google searches. Removing this entry was not an option for me – the whole point of this blog was that I had found all the eggs, so I offered to add a link to his current work / agent’s gallery  / whatever. The artist didn’t like that idea – it seems he would rather not highlight his older work as he’s trying “to sculpt his brand”. So, I’ve removed his name and will leave you to decide what you think about the brand sculpting!

A further update re number 71 Too many salads by XXX XXXXXX
Despite the above change being agreed by email with the artist, he went on, several months later, to file a copyright infringement notice against me. It seems he objects to having a photograph of his early work on public display. I have therefore altered the photograph so that his work is not on display. I will not publicly convey what I think about this artist, his attitude or his work, in case he also objects to that! Suffice to say, I would never buy any of his creations.

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