Gibbs Farm is an artistic experiment in the use of the landscape to influence and display large-scale works of art. It’s set against the backdrop of the Kaipara Harbour and is owned by entrepreneur and arts philanthropist, Alan Gibbs.

Of the 19 works on display, three dominate the park: Neil Dawson’s Horizons (shown above), Anish Kapoor’s Dismemberment and Bernar Venet’s 88.5-Degree Arc x 8 (both shown below), and one is much more subtle (Maya Lin’s A Fold in the Field), being a large-scale earthwork which is easily missed.

Anish Kapoor's Dismemberment - a huge curved PVC membrane stretched between two enormous steel ellipses measuring 25x8m each end.
Anish Kapoor’s Dismemberment – a huge curved PVC membrane stretched between two enormous steel ellipses measuring 25x8m each end.
Venet's work is imposing up close
Venet’s work is imposing up close – eight steel arches darkened by the rain, but usually a golden-hued with rust

The park is open for free on around six Thursdays a year, but we paid to go on one of the couple of weekends they open the park. Because it gets booked up six months in advance, you don’t know what the weather will do, and for us it decided on a mixture of drizzle and rain (which definitely wasn’t in the weather forecast we read that morning). But, that didn’t dampen our enthusiasm as these artworks are visually arresting in their scale and the farm itself is beautiful to walk around with its rolling hills and exotic animals.

One of the three giraffes (+1 giraffe sculpture) at Gibbs Farm
One of the three real giraffes (+1 giraffe sculpture) at Gibbs Farm

As well as the giraffes there were zebras, yaks and highland cattle, emus, ornery ostriches that have a real problem with humans, and some rather horny alpacas having an orgy.

ostrich
Aggressive ostrich terrorised the park visitors, undoing shoelaces and biting clothing

While grey skies don’t always do outdoor artworks justice, Andy Goldsworthy’s Arches looked amazing as they disappeared into the tranquil white sea reflecting the overcast sky.

Brick arches disappear into the tide
Brick arches disappear into the tide

The largest sculpture, but arguably the one which blends in the nicest into the landscape (given its size) is Richard Serra’s Te Tuhirangi Contour which is so big it really needs to be viewed from the air to get a sense of its overall shape.

Richard Serra Te Tuhirangi Contour 2

 

By this time, though, the rain had started to fall quite heavily and, dressed just in t-shirts and light pants, we started to look as bedraggled as the ostriches and yaks.

ostrich grazing

Check it out and book here.

Tips: there’ll be a queue at the gate, so expect to wait 15 minutes or so to get in. There’s no food on-site and you’ll need to allow 3 hours to look around if you’re fit.

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