Regan Gentry from Auckland has reached new heights by winning the 2011 Harkness Henry Award and claiming $3,000 in prize money for his monumental sculpture, ‘Cold Comfort’, one of 37 works on display at new outdoor exhibition, Summer: Sky above, earth below, at The Sculpture Park @ Waitakaruru Arboretum, near Hamilton.
Gentry’s towering 5.5 metre ‘chimney’ sculpture took five people nearly three days to install. It had to be winched into place and wired to the pine tree above, to prevent it from toppling from its cliff edge site. ‘Cold Comfort’ is comprised of pumice, wood, steel, glue and rope.
Gentry said that the inspiration for ‘Cold Comfort’ came out of a project that looked at the issues encountered during the attempted settlement of the Mangapurua Valley of the King Country, in the first few decades of the 20th century. The Mangapurua settlement was a failure and the chimneys and introduced plants are the only signs remaining of the lives that dwelt there. Gentry said that he “found the place lonely and kind of haunted with disappointment.”
Originally from the Hawkes Bay, 35 year old Regan Gentry was announced the winner at a ceremony held at The Sculpture Park on Saturday evening (19 November 2011). He won the Award ahead of an impressive field of 30 artists and groups, including esteemed practitioners: Barry Brickell, Mary-Louise Browne and Leon van den Eijkel.
The Award was judged by Paul Hartigan, artist; Leafa Wilson, Curator at Waikato Museum and artist; and Lynden Earl, Senior Partner, Harkness Henry Lawyers. While the competition was tough, the judges were unanimous in their enthusiasm for Gentry’s sculpture, describing it as the “most resolved in its placement, execution and concept – it has become much greater than the sum of its parts.”
The Harkness Henry Award is sponsored by Hamilton firm Harkness Henry Lawyers, who have been proudly associated with the Award for the past five years.
Summer: Sky above, earth below opens to the public on Sunday 20 November 2011 and runs until 04 March 2012. The exhibition is a celebration of the connections that exist between art, nature and humanity, and their relationship to The Sculpture Park’s unique site and the world around. It is curated by Andrew Clifford, Curator at The University of Auckland's Gus Fisher Gallery. Clifford has curated many prominent exhibitions, most recently the Auckland Council’s Living Room: Metropolis Dreaming and the touring Pat Hanly show, Seven Ages of Man.
The Sculpture Park is situated on a 17.5 ha (42 acre) hillside site with panoramic vistas over the fertile Waikato valley, containing intimate tree-enclosed spaces and interesting landforms. It recently qualified as a permanent Forest Sink and won the right to sell carbon credits. Clifford says that “in this kind of raw environment, the way we inhabit the earth is much more evident and the environmental concerns addressed by the Waitakaruru Arboretum provide an ideal platform from which to explore these issues.”
Commenting on the winning work Clifford said “Regan Gentry’s work is a finely nuanced and layered response to the landscape and its history. It is a challenging and ambitious work for him to bring to Waitakaruru Arboretum and it has adapted terrifically to the site; the result is an eerie and compelling installation amongst the trees.”
An exhibition catalogue with an introduction by Clifford was also launched at the ceremony and a book of the exhibition will be published in early December. The book is proudly sponsored by investment company, Craigs Investment Partners. The Wallace Arts Trust kindly loaned Barry Brickell’s major work, ‘The Weed’, for exhibition at Summer: Sky above, earth below.
REGAN GENTRYAND CURATOR ANDREW CLIFFORD ARE AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Regan Gentry was born in 1976 and attended the Otago School of Art. He is represented by Whitespace Gallery and will take up the McCahon Trust Residency next year, from July to September.
Andrew Clifford works asworks as Curator at The University of Auckland, where he manages the Gus Fisher Gallery and The University of Auckland Art Collection. He has made contributions to a wide range of publications locally and abroad, including the NZ Listener, New Zealand Herald, Art New Zealand, Art News New Zealand and Art Asia Pacific. He has also provided essays to books, gallery and academic publications, including the John Reynolds monograph Certain Words Drawn. He is currently a board member for the Audio Foundation and co-curated their international experimental music festival, Alt.music, from 2004 – 2007.
The Waikato Sculpture Trust facilitates innovative sculpture exhibitions at the Sculpture Park @ Waitakaruru Arboretum and each curator brings his or her own particular vision to the task. The Park has been the site for more than 20 sculpture exhibitions since it opened to the public in November 2004. For much of that time well-regarded artist and curator Sarah Anderson has been at the helm. Her tenure now comes to an end as she returns to her native Canterbury and hands the baton to incoming curator and recent Wintec Visual Arts graduate, Michelle Colson.
The Trust encourages visitors to engage with its exhibitions and the park setting, and through their Learn+Explore educational programme, aims to foster creative thinking for Park visitors of all ages. To this end, Arts Educator Sybille Schlumbom has devised an invaluable programme of resources and activities for parents, teachers and children. Find out more at: http://www.sculpturepark.co.nz/learnexplore.