If you go down to Havelock North today you’re in for a big surprise. The Village Green has been a hive of preparation these last few days as the Arts Festival prepares to launch. The tents are erected, the lights strung, flags flutter in the spring breeze, pendulous yet airy David Trubridge creations gently spiral above.
At the focal point, on the paved area in front of the box office Tape Art NZ’s Erica Duthie and Struan Ashby are diligently at work on hands and knees in the midday sun. Surrounded by bunting of their own making and in their unique style they are installing a Tape Art Labyrinth as their offering to festival-goers and passers-by alike. They have marked a pathway on the pavement, formed by the negative spaces around their vibrant creations in coloured masking tape on black weed mat, connected and anchored by bright red duct tape. When complete, participants will be invited to enter and walk in file on a single circuitous route that will wend its way from beginning to end within the circular form.
It’s a novel and thoughtful art form that works wonderfully on many levels. The individual designs, worked painstakingly over five weeks, reference a multitude of cultures from Chinese to Celtic, Mughal to Maori, so that every visitor may find a part that feels familiar and welcoming, and a part that is exotic and intriguing. This appeal to collective consciousness is intentional, heightening the experience that is at the heart of this temporary public art work. As beautiful as it is to behold, the labyrinth is made to be walked in community. The act of processing before and behind friends, neighbours, strangers is both meditative and intimate. The twisting form requires attention- where am I placing my feet, what space do I occupy, who is occupying the space around me? In our fast paced, increasingly physically isolated world, this moment of enforced mindfulness can be revolutionary.
As if this weren’t enough, the Tape Artists, together with Arts Inc. Heretaunga, are taking it a step further. All this week they will be supporting local groups to create their own labyrinth. The 6m by 9m creation will be worked on a recycled billboard base, using tape as a stencil to resist paint. When the tape is removed the piece will be formed by the interplay of blank space and community led painting. The act of co-creation by a collective of disparate but interdependent participants is central to the work, and a catalyst for connection across a spectrum of people. There will be contributions from a kura group, and from Age Concern, before throwing the floor open to you (yes you) and me on Thursday and Friday at Flaxmere Community Centre. The piece will be blessed and gifted to the community there on Saturday at 10am, after which it will be a resource that can be installed at will for events and celebrations. It’s being organised by the force of nature that is Ali Beal so hit her up on 0204 1566 6722 and get yourself down there, ready to muck in. I’ll see you there.
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