The Sculptureum - a rare showcase of glass art August 23, 2017 21:37

The Sculptureum, on the outskirts of Matakana, North of Auckland, opened in May this year.  As a treat before the actual opening, the team at Sculptureum opened their gates for a limited number. I was thrilled to be invited to visit the new sculpture park in late April.

Sculptureum is the multi-million dollar baby of Anthony and Sandra Grant.  The name – a combination of the words Sculpture and Museum -  gives you a hint that what you’re getting isn’t going to be the run of the mill, usual sculptures strategically placed throughout a garden.

With the friendly greetings from at the ticket booth attendants, and amicable garden attendants happy to discuss their part in the great venture; the atmosphere across the gardens was one of excitement – like they knew they were part of something special.

Media outlets have released a lot of information on what to expect.  I had of course poured over these, in anticipation.  However, I found that although I recognised pieces as we wandered around, those brief glimpses hadn’t given the true picture.  It was fantastic!  Around each corner another world, another vision, another fairy tale unfolded.

Wandering the park is a journey through the imagination of Anthony Grant.  Plaques dotted around share their vision, like whispers of forgotten conversations, giving you a hint of what inspirers them, and the hope these will also inspire you.  

The park is comprised of three different areas – 

  • the first is a large outdoor area, different garden scenes appearing around each corner
  • the second is an indoor feature where many treasures are housed  
  • and the third part is another garden area with where whimsy reaches out and Alice has definitely slipped down the rabbit hole.

The glass content of the park is fabulous!  Anthony Grant has an eye for the bright, colourful, fun and fanciful!  Each piece grabs your attention, draws you in, swallows you whole, in order to spit you out into the path of the next piece…  

With so many glass pieces both inside and out, Anthony Grant’s enjoyment of the medium is clear.  It’s wonderful to see such a range of glass on display – showcasing the medium’s techniques; the colours, strength and fragility of glass.  

For me, it was difficult to move past the first inside room – the displays of glass, with the collection of Italian Murano champagne flutes, the comical Life Party candidates, and several beautiful Dante Marioni pieces including the famed Yellow and Black, Blue and Red vessel displays, and a Whooper vase.   

But the glass didn’t stop there - with the wild and whimsical imaginary creatures of the Borowski family hot-shop blown glass, and many more pieces cleverly dotted along the paths.  

My camera went into serious overdrive from the very start.  There was just so much to take in, I’m sure when I go back I will see things missed the first time around! 

Other amazing non-glass highlights included:

  • A giant Polar Bear by Marty Wong
  • A Picasso – the artist and his model
  • A Cezanne etching
  • An amazing goat with a coat of forks 
  • Conversations with Susie and a rather aloof Max (rather talkative parrots)
  • Steel security guards on the hill
  • Colourful aviaries, and gorgeous rabbits

But the piece de resistance?   The Dale Chihuly chandelier, of course.  Just stunning.  

I hope you can visit this amazing park.  If find it’s not often that glass art holds such a presence in exhibitions or sculpture parks, but thanks to the Grants these brilliant pieces of art are accessible to the general public.

There’s so many different pieces of art to see at the Sculptureum, and it’s a wonderful opportunity not to be missed.   The Grants are sharing their love and appreciation of art, (and especially glass) with goal of inspiring everyday NZers to make, and collect pieces that speak to them.  

Not everyone will get to Murano to see the Masters at work; to Seattle to see Dale Chihuly’s work; sit on a bench with Mark Twain; or watch a giant pink snail trail, but just past Warkworth you can, and more!