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Public artwork unveiled at Smales Farm Station

Public artwork unveiled at Smales Farm Station

Artist Gill Gatfield and Silhouette. (Photo by Ursula Cranmer.

Auckland, 17 August 2011. Smales Farm Busway Station was the scene of a joyous unveiling as around 50 people gathered to celebrate the completed installation of a sculpture that is the result of a $35,000 public art competition.

The public art competition was commissioned by Smales Farm to create a permanent artwork depicting and celebrating the history of Smales Farm as a transport hub on the North Shore. Professional art curator Rob Garrett led the judging of proposals submitted by 20 artists.

New Zealand modern minimalist artist Gill Gatfield won the competition with her entry 'Silhouette', which is carved from a single giant slab of black granite.

The winning sculpture now occupies a prominent position adjacent to the Smales Farm Busway Station, which is located on the corner of Shakespeare and Taharoto Roads on Auckland's North Shore. Smales Farm has been at the centre of the development of transport on the North Shore since 1898, when the farm grazed horses used for the first coach service in the area. This coach service was run from the site of the present day Smales Farm Bus Station, which used to be called Smales Corner.

Greg Smale spoke on behalf of the Smale family at the unveiling, which occurred in high winds on Auckland's first day of snow since 1939. He said the judging panel had no preconceived ideas as to what the winning work would look like, but one proposal stood out from the others as a superb, elegant and imaginative response to the special history of the site.

"Gill Gatfield's Silhouette won because the work is outstanding, and expresses a clear and strong connection to this site and its history," he said.

Auckland Transport's Northern Busway Stations Leader, Anthony Blom, said the artwork installation was the fruit of a successful partnership between Smales Farm, Council and Auckland Transport.

"It is wonderful to have public art in a major infrastructure project like this one," he said.

Lead judge Rob Garrett said the artwork had helped to create a sense of destination in a place that was a threshold of arrivals and departures.

"Very often these kinds of facilities can be anonymous; you could almost be in any country. Smales Farm, Auckland City and Auckland Transport have tried to create a distinctive place," he said.

"The panels inside the station detailing the site's history, and the sculpture itself are all part of that. The Silhouette work was made specifically for this location, and gives the place a memorable personality," said Rob Garrett.

Artist Gill Gatfield said she was told early on that Silhouette was an impossible project. The piece of granite needed was unrealistically large, it simply didn't exist. Even if it did exist in the ground, it would still be impossible to quarry as its size exceeded all normal commercial quarrying parameters.

"Art should transcend physics," she said.

"I thank the Smale family for giving me the opportunity to make an impossible sculpture."


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