A Visit to the Unordinary Gibbs Farm
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s we set out from Auckland on our road trip to visit Gibbs Farm, I had been instructed to call the farm when we were driving through Kaukapakapa. Call from Kaukapakapa I thought?! Let’s just hope getting there is easier than pronouncing it.
The drive from Auckland was scenic and full of sheep and the lush green landscapes one has come to expect from the country made famous for hunting hobbits.
Gibbs Farm is located just past Kaukapakapa in the Kaipara Harbour, the largest harbour in the Southern hemisphere.
Upon arrival we were greeted by the incredibly affable and charming Alan Gibbs. Alan was behind the wheel of an open top jeep and was going to be our guide.
I knew then that this wasn’t going to be an ordinary sculpture park tour!
First stop on our tour was the giraffe enclosure. The giraffes, zebras and lamas who share a home with the monumental art collection and Gibbs family added to the magic of this enchanted place.
I have never seen a more manicured farm or better groomed farm animals as I did at Gibbs Farm. As if works of art themselves. Each grouping of animals was more sublime than the next. I mean how often do you see a herd of buffalo seeking shade from the afternoon sun at the foot of a 27 meter tall corten Bernar Venet sculpture?
I did have to blink several times to make sure this place wasn’t a dream. Sculptures emerging out of the land like they had always been there and majestic looking animals waltzing around under the bluest and purest antipodean sky.
We definitely had the access all areas pass on our tour with Alan at the wheel. HE drove us over the undulating hills of the Maya Lin, A Fold in the Field which is 105,000 cubic meters of earth fill covering 30,000 sq meters of the property.
Just when I thought that was the risque part of our visit over, we embarked on the Anish Kapoor.
Drum roll please… as we approached Dismemberment, Site 1.
Kapoor’s 85 meters of steel tubing and tensioned fabric nestled between two hill-tops. The 2009 piece was a special commission for the farm and special it was!
As we drove up to the mouth of the Kapoor I was surprised at how close the jeep was getting. After stopping, Alan said we could go inside!
What?! Surely I didn’t hear him correctly.
Well, you don’t need to tell me twice, so shoes off and climb inside the Kapoor I did. I jumped and ran through the piece like an overexcited toddler in a jumping castle for the first time. From inside the piece, the outlook onto the farm through the openings at either end was nothing short of masterful.
After composing myself from my Kapoor expedition it was back into the jeep and onto to discover more of the stunning Kaipara property.
Given what I had seen so far, I shouldn’t have been surprised to see that Daniel Buren had created 3.2 km of fencing for the property. Daniel Buren worked directly on the first 544 metres of Green and White Fence along a single ridgeline and since then the artist’s theme has grown to a length of 3.2 kilometres; over time it will become the only form of fence on the property. Art collectors certainly do it best!
But wait there is more. Richard Serra’s Te Tuhirangi Contour, made up of 56 steel plates which lean out by 11 degrees from the vertical and trace a single contour line across the land in the most extraordinary way.
Serra says of meeting Gibbs, “The first thing he said to me was ‘I’ve just been to Storm King [which has Serra’s Schunnemunk Fork 1990-91] and I want a more significant piece than that. I don’t want any wimpy piece in the landscape. I am still in awe of what I have seen and the vision of one collector realised in this magical place.
The Gibbs’ collection includes major works by Andy Goldsworthy, Anish Kapoor, Bill Culbert, Chris Booth, Daniel Buren, Eric Orr, George Rickey, Graham Bennett, Kenneth Snelson, Len Lye, Leon van den Eijkel, Marijke de Goey, Neil Dawson, Peter Nicholls, Peter Roche, Ralph Hotere, Richard Serra, Richard Thompson, Russell Moses, Sol LeWitt, Tony Oursler and Zhan Wang and I have only shared with you a few of the works we encountered and experiences on our enchanted tour of the Gibbs Farm.
The afternoon we spent at the farm was unforgettable and awe inspiring.
Gibbs Farm is open to artists, educational institutions, charities and the public, by prior appointment only.
by Viola Raikhel-Bolot
Photos: by Viola Raikhel-Bolot
Viola is frequently invited as a guest speaker at Sotheby’s Institute, the International Bar Association, Luxury and Wealth Management forums, museums and art fairs internationally. She is a regular contributor to CNN, CNBC and Bloomberg television news as an expert on the international art market.