Harbourview and then Between Tides


In busy times it is hard to keep up with both making and presenting/explaining one’s art!

The mangroves made their way along the motorway, on a trailer, to the Te Atatu Peninsula and then down over the tussocky grass to a mown clearing where they posed in a silent dance near their smaller real-life cousins.

Their stay there ended, they now greet me from our neighbour’s front garden every time I leave the house, surprisingly camouflaged under two tall trees.


Then we had Between Tides – a huge event in that it was billed as (Probably the Final) Between Tides. This annual community art event has become increasingly popular, and drawn a wide range of exhibitors including a number of performers. Perhaps in fact, we hope, there may be some among them who choose to carry on with BT, but for the Jersey group it is time to step back now. We are no longer all in Auckland or all available. It has been a wonderful event to stimulate more experimental ideas since they only had to be on the beach for about five hours, as well as resolved works having their moment in the sun (wind and rain).

The day – for the first time in fourteen years – was really wet! We had had some anxiety about maybe having to pack up earlier than 2pm because of the time and height of the tide, but in fact steady rain set in just before 1 so by 1.30 everyone had de-camped. Hardy visitors and artists had up to that point managed with umbrellas the occasional heavy shower and ongoing drizzle, but the rain became a real soaker. It was in a way an exhilarating, if abrupt ending.

My main work, ‘The catch with plastic’, is on the left. A theme others also had in mind (see Vonney Ball’s amazing wire fish caught on three rods). In a flurry of enthusiasm I decided, after years of some visitors querulously appealing for some guide as to whose work they might be looking at (we have a policy of no labels, mostly to encourage interaction with the artists who are generally around!) to make a map. And four of my last year’s swimmers (who were hanging from the pohutakawa, as they had the year before hung over a plaza at Victoria Park Market) had obviously been for a dip and found it very chilly as they sat looking blue and wet on the rocks. (Paper mache over a wire armature is quite possible to re-pose – just needed a bit of patching, which turned into their blue skins).

Juliette Laird net

(Thanks to Cate Dine for the photo)

Many thanks to all those who contributed in many ways to Between Tides and in particular to those who provided the images – a selection of which are below.


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The importance of playing

The four weeks at Harbourview Sculpture Trail were quite an outing for my branches compared to the brief exposure to the elements in Poland – that is about their limit in the New Zealand sun! And one or two of my home-dyed leaves have “turned” because of the rain! It was exciting to push the possibilities of exhibiting knitted work outdoors. The knowledge that they will not last long outside added some tension (for me at least!) to the interest created by placing something so much of inside out in the weather.
I have continued knitting but do not yet have a set idea for what these leaves will be a part of. I am however looking forward to taking the Polish branches to Wellington over Labour Weekend to be a part of the Celebrating Everything Polish festival at the Museum of City and Sea which will precede events marking the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Pahiatua children in Wellington on November 1st, 1944.
And it was great to be presenting the experience of Narracje 5 to fellow artists and others at AUT on April 9th.
A presentation with Gregory Bennett and Rob Garrett

It has been a very busy four months – or longer. In the middle of Harbourview I was busy making a semi-performance piece from plaster for the JERSEY community art event at Westmere Beach, ‘Between Tides’ (https://www.facebook.com/juliette.laird/media_set?set=a.620847814652500.100001818601939&type=3).

Juliette Laird The sky has fallen (10)

I poured large sheets of plaster, painted them to look like sky and on the day threw them up and over a beach chair – The sky is falling (https://www.facebook.com/juliette.laird/media_set?set=a.620836294653652.1073741829.100001818601939&type=3)

I have lately found myself diverted into a light exploration of the human figure. Starting with an idea I was thinking to use at school I found that wire and paper quickly evolved into a crowd of small lithe people. I am not sure if they are having fun or like lemmings heading to the edge of the cliff but the making process is productive.

Balancing act

Playing around with ideas without being tied to the need to make work to exhibit is very important. As I loosen up I think this has helped refine my thoughts about my branches and also the the knitted sapling, Enticement, which may go on exhibition at CIRCLE Gallery in Newmarket either next week or in 3 weeks’ time with other members of the DUST artists’ collective (http://dustartcollective.net). Talking about the work helps too – as I was describing my thoughts and understanding of the consequence for migrants of uprooting from one home (family, country and culture) I realised that the way that the tree’s branches sprout from the stake to which they are tied, and the prosthetic support of the umbrella stand keeping it upright, are just like the makeshift, transitional forms of support that immigrants are forced to adopt. And also the attempt to make the structure look as though it is real, putting on a good face, which is sad but so brave – and just as essential as the gardener’s firm bindings around the grafted branch on the rootstock.

Transplantation before Cyclone Lusi

Ready for the opening

The work now completed stands in its quiet glade. The colours glow against the green manuka and other foliage.
I like the way only the top of a single blue tree is visible as you approach, but then the whole orchard surrounds the space.

Inviting you in

Inviting you in

The orchard

The orchard

And as for Cyclone Lusi – I have done my best to tighten all the lashings, but will see tomorrow if the branches have been blown about or stood up to the wind and rain as I hoped.

Harbourview opens under spectacular skies

Dawn from Te Atatu

Dawn from Te Atatu Peninsula

The opening of Harbourview Sculpture Trail on March 8th was a beautiful experience – bathed in the dawn glow and all the work shimmering with dewdrops. A simple, sensitively led ceremony focused on tuning into the natural environment, and an awareness of the place and its people – the underlying themes of the sculpture trail.

Maori TV filming the event

Maori TV filming the event

Early morning

Transplantation in the early morning

Summer projects

The summer has been a busy time for making and planning projects, as well as the usual summer activities, so the blogposts have been neglected.
Since returning from Gdansk late November I have continued working on knitted leaves and branches.

New leaves

New leaves

A very different project was the re-presentation of a plain old plywood and steel pipe school chair for The Chair Project (part of Artists Open Studios Whanganui 2014). This event will be held on two weekends – 22-23 March and 29-30 March, and feature 100 artists from all over the country, displaying and selling art in 66 open studios. This paper mache enhancement evolved into a crabby chair!

Evolving chair creature

Evolving chair creature

"Unknown Crustacean Discovered in Hobbyist’s Basement"

“Unknown Crustacean Discovered in Hobbyist’s Basement”

Returning to the knitting I assembled a new branch. This was to be part of a group of knitted branches to be installed on stakes, like young saplings, at Harbourview Sculpture Trail in March. The group would form a small orchard, harking back to the heritage of European settlers in West Auckland who established orchards, market gardens and vinyards to provide for Auckland’s growing population.

Making a new branch - detail

Making a new branch – detail

Once completed the branches were tried out with various means of support including a concrete umbrella base which I decided would work well and – without its adjustable screw – lose that strong association (although given the way the early settlers chopped native trees down, the fruit trees they planted were the only form of shade, apart from sun umbrellas which they often had by their houses – symbols of a new lifestyle).

Tree on deck

Tree on deck

As the branches are made of yarn and non-stainless steel they need to be inside in the long term, although they are robust enough to stand several weeks outside quite happily, so I also wanted to show how easily they can be displayed indoors.
On the wall

On the wall

With the “saplings” installed now at Harbourview Sculpture Trail on Te Atatu Peninsula, they await the opening – protected meanwhile from sun and rain.