Zealandia, 40 minutes north of Auckland, is both a home and a gallery open to visitors. It features an imposing edifice with sharp lines and cool concrete slabs, which contrasts with the green pasture and native bush. The art itself, bronze sculpture by Zealandia creator Terry Stringer, is loaded with riddles and complexity. Stringer is one of New Zealand''s top sculptors.
The human form is the starting point for most of his work. He takes the formal figure to levels beyond the obvious, embroiling them in drama with cultural references - literary, mythological, art historical and biblical.
There are plays within plays, layers of readings to be discovered, the multiple levels are available with observation. Visitors needn''t be art-educated to find them. They need only walk around the sculptures, look and engage. As viewers, they have a role in the art''s ability to come to life. Truth, for example, portrays a cloaked, hooded figure with a hidden face. People are invited to confront this figure, take its hand, and swing a concealing fan away. The action reveals the figure''s other hand, holding a mask before the face - and this too can be swung away. Where the face should be is a mirror. The work refers to a Japanese notion of a person having three faces - one that is revealed to the world, one to the family and one that is private and personal.
But the ''action works'' are new to Stringer. A more typical example of his work involves visual interaction. See a cloaked figure from one angle and the profile of a face on another. The cloaked figure and the revealed face are connected. In Private View, for example, the viewer must step into the personal space of a heavily pregnant Virgin Mary, peer through her halo, and find Christ in the folds of her gown.
Within the Enclosed Garden, a labyrinth built on the site of the original cattle yards, is a collection of art by other New Zealanders. Terry Stringer sculptures stand alongside. In the latter category are works by former tutors Greer Twiss and Molly McAllister, plus Stringer references to Lois White and Paul Beadle. Chris Booth, Richard McWhannell, Mary-Louise Brown - all significant New Zealand sculptors - are represented in the Enclosed Garden.
The gallery exhibits paintings and objects from the artist''s collection and on loan from other artists, in support of changing themes.