Glittery sculpture unveiled by budding young artists

Published on March 09, 2022

Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom - Bonsai Spheres by Leon van den Eijkel.jpg

A sparkling new artwork was unveiled at Te Awahou Riverside Cultural Park last Friday by local school children who won the privilege as part of an art competition.

The sculpture, created by Leon van den Eijkel was featured in a 2021 exhibition at Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom’s Māpuna Kabinet Art Gallery.

“The students loved being exposed to such stunning art,” says Mary Kleinsman-Powell, Principal of St Mary’s School.

“Back in December, the sculpture was brought into class, along with some paintings by the artist. We talked about Modernist art, and then they got started on their own works – all about whānau, bright colours and simple shapes. They did an excellent job, and loved the challenge.”

St Mary’s School brought an art class into the gallery on Friday and listened to a presentation by Sherilyn Bury Vilela about her colourful installation inspired by Foxton Beach, its kuaka godwits and marine life. After that, the sculpture was unveiled. “It was a fun learning experience,” says Ms Kleinsman-Powell.

Foxton Beach School also participated in the competition, with the prize winners honoured at the school.

“The children got very excited,” says teacher Frances McDonald. “They have all been experimenting with artworks based on block colour and family representations. Some are good, and some are amazing!” 

“We received funding to purchase a sculpture that acts as a wayfinder towards the River Loop,” says Arjan van der Boon, Marketing Manager of Te Awahou Riverside Cultural Park. “We wanted to involve the local schools in that arts celebration.

“We chose a work by Leon van den Eijkel – from his ‘Bonsai Spheres’ urban trees series. It glitters in awa blue and harakeke green from a distance, and attracts you to come closer. Once you’ve arrived, you can see the River Loop – between the Whare Manaaki and the Flax Stripper Museum. Visitors will hopefully be tempted to then go and explore our new park and walkways there.” 

The Wellington waterfront features a major work by Van den Eijkel – a 9m high ‘Urban Forest’ of square cubes that move around in the wind.

“We’re right up there, with Foxton as an arts and heritage town,” says Van der Boon. “Our Bonsai Spheres are only 3m high. But in our Cultural Park, visitors can delight in several impressive traditional Māori art works and modern pieces – plus a 50m giant art mural that was designed in Amsterdam. Foxton is becoming a very colourful tourist destination.”

The funding for the sculpture and the art competition was generously provided by Manatū Taonga’s Cultural Events and Installations initiative. 

The black base of the sculpture was created by Preston North, from the Foxton Forge.

The Māpuna Kabinet Art Gallery inside Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom is host to ever changing artworks.  The current exhibition showcases local works from the Te Awahou Arts Collective and is open until Sunday 3 April.


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