There’s Gold on them there Hills
debuts at headland Sculpture on the Gulf, Waiheke Island
27 January 2017
A reflection on “There’s Gold on them there Hills.”
by Anton Forde
With every piece of art I create, I aim to make people happier. “There’s Gold on them there Hills” is significant in that it fulfills this basic desire; I am happy when I am creating. I am happy when I am with my whaanau and friends. The time that I spend with both is when I feel that time stands still, balanced on the fine line between sleep and awakened, heightened, life-fulfilling dreams. The feeling that is evoked through the process of either starting, working on, or finishing a piece is happiness. For me that happiness is paramount in its complexity through simple basic forms and values.
Collaborating with Matthew in the making of “There’s Gold on them there Hills” has instilled within me a feeling of happiness, humbleness and gratitude. I liken Matthew to a Human Kauri Tree with a huge amount of strength that is shown in his actions, tenacity and his golden heart on the inside. This has meant more to me than words can express.
The key component for me of “There’s Gold on them there Hills” is the Kauri blocks and their history. As trees they had thousands of years of history which culminated in thirty years of extraction in the 1800’s leaving the Island completely diminished of Kauri. A few months ago I walked with Bruce Plested who showed me four remaining Kauri trees that he had recently found on his Waiheke Island property. As I approached these magnificent, majestic, “Bigger than me” trees time stood still. I was both joyous and heartbroken. It was what I have come to know as a golden moment.
The story of these blocks began with the little seeds on Waiheke Island that grew for thousands of years. These Kauri trees were then chopped down, floated to Auckland, sculpted into blocks, covered in tarmacadam, pulled from the earth again after 150 years and found by Matthew in the back of a section in West Auckland. When we cut the tar off them we were left speechless. With each step of this growth process we were left without words and even now, no words describe what I am left with when I look at the final “There’s Gold on them there Hills”… I reflect back to little seeds – this time planted in minds, hearts and homes.
Another key concept we wanted people to connect with is that of Gold and its value. In my life there are many things that I value that link to treasured Gold. That first sweet taste of a golden corn cob which signals summer is here. The final glimpse of a golden sunlight ray from a mountain top with the knowledge that the same golden sun may rise to warm a beach somewhere on the other side of this earth we live on. A stunning iridescent Kowhai flower that combines with crimson Pohutukawa to signal a Kiwi Christmas of hope, love, Tuuii birdsong and whaanau/family, a golden band placed around a finger that is a symbol of soul-mates in love for eternity … Those pure smiling joyous moments of gold that may stretch out in eternity as a lifetime of golden years.
The value of golden moments in time are immortalised in these little blocks. For me, the values of whaanau/family, love, friendship, nature, belief and mystical beauty are captured by remembering these moments. The thought patterns I go on remind me what this piece has enabled me to value even more than I did before being a part of their pilgrimage. This makes me happy. I think of people that have shaped who I am which again evoke a feelings of love, humility and gratitude.
It reinstates for me, that through these values that don’t enable me to operate from a place where this thing we do is not about me or my ego. To survive I must try to uphold healthy values that have been immortalised through humankind. These values are inherently good, which is a treasure in itself. I see it each day as love unfolds in little golden moments that don’t necessarily stay but reflect in memories and people and places that I love and care about. What is also monumental is the fact that thousands of years of good growth can be undone in a moment that is not golden. What connects these deeds to a golden moment is when I feel we learn and change from such deeds.
If you have one of these Taonga/Treasure it is yours to love, value and treat as gold. You have made my life happier because of this. Hopefully we have helped make your life happier by making it for you and your loved ones. Each little block was part of a statement about human values, gold, Kauri and diminishing resources that stood together for three days as a single sculpture at Matiatia on Waiheke Island. We hope they are and will continue to make statements through their journey home back to Waiheke Island where they once stood as trees in a magnificent forest, and now beyond.
For me time will stand still in a golden moment when reflecting on “There’s Gold on them there hills.” I am happier because of that. I hope you are too.
Robert Frost wrote a poem that has stayed with me since I was ten. I remembered it when I went for a walk along Matiatia recently… “Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf’s a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing Gold can stay.”
Read the above Article in the 12 January Waiheke Weekender about this piece.
An installation made from 2000 year-old Kauri bricks recovered from Karangahape Road, Auckland and created by Matt Harte and Anton Forde, is on display in the event’s Pavilion Gallery from 27 January to 19 February.
The installation, a huge palette of hand-finished and lovingly lacquered kauri blocks stacked like gold bullion, was conceived in 2015 when Harte bumped into Anton Forde, an artist known for his wooden works, on the island. The genesis of a collaboration began and they are now invited artists of the 2017 Headland Sculpture on the Gulf, joining four other Waiheke locals featured as selected artists.
The blocks were originally used in the 1860s to create the surface of Karangahape Road in Auckland. 150 years on, they’re a commentary on our culture’s value system, resources and perception of wealth.
“From a distance, ‘There’s Gold in Them There Hills’ looks like a stack of gold from a vault. As you get closer you see that it’s Kauri – New Zealand’s gold,” explains Harte.
Pieces will be sold at the Pavilion, on the Matiatia foreshore, during the three-week event. The first will sell for $10, with the price then ascending in a growth sequence that represents the increasing value of the diminishing supply of the resource; with the last block expecting to sell for $1125.
“I’d love the public to buy and share these as individual pieces,” says Harte. “The gift is not in the monetary gain but in getting the kauri out again into the world, setting the blocks off on a new journey. There’s value in that.”