Heralded by Lonely Planet as "one of the greatest properties we've ever seen", this 60-acre coastal property is the vision of owners John and Jo Gow who wanted to unite art with nature.
The owners have created the sculpture park by planting sweeps of native trees on the natural landscape to create special places for commissioned site-specific and purchased New Zealand art. The walk leads to one of many rustic macrocarpa seats from where visitors can enjoy the view towards the Coromandel Peninsula.
New Zealand sculptors
The Sculpture Park currently contains 28 works in differing scale and media, and each of the commissioned sculptures tells a story about its existence.
Phil Price has installed a large kinetic work titled ‘Dancer’ which links back to John’s involvement in theatre. Cathryn Monro’s ‘Rise’ has direct reference to the Mayan temples where both the artist and the owners had travelled.
Neil Dawson’s eight-metre sculpture ‘Other People's Houses’ draws reference to the private cluster of colonial cottages on the foreshore at Connells Bay, which - from the late 1800s and for 80 years - was a sea-access trading post with a shop, dairy, post office and fuel depot.
Further on, Chris Booth’s ‘Slip’ celebrates the healing of the land following several large landslides.
Fatu Feu’u’s large carving is reminiscent of an Easter Island head. More than any other sculpture in the park, this one belongs as his roots go deep into the earth. He is ‘Guardian of the Planting’, bringer of peace and stern protector of the 15,000 planted native trees.
Other sculptors represented at Connells Bay include Graham Bennett, Phil Dadson, Paul Dibble, Kon Dimopoulos, Christine Hellyar, Virginia King, Barry Lett, Peter Nicholls, Michael Parekowhai, Bob Stewart, Jeff Thomson and Richard Thompson.
There are many others and new sculptures are added each year.
The Gowshed Gallery contains resource material about each of the commissioned sculptures, a collection of books and DVDs on international sculpture and small / medium sized works for sale. It is an ideal place for visitors to the Sculpture Park to soak up information on contemporary sculpture.
Prior to opening Connells Bay to the public, John spent 20 years arranging funding for a number of major musicals around the world including Cats, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon.
The couple's interest in the arts also includes a significant collection of New Zealand paintings.
Connells Bay Sculpture Park is open for guided walks on a prior appointment basis between October and April each year. And, for those who want to stay longer, there is an historic seaside cottage nestled among native trees and offering luxury accommodation all year round.
Taking art outdoors in Auckland