The spiral universe

Art from the land.

Art from the land.

Whenever he returns to his hometown, former Gisborne artist Mace Robertson creates an artwork from natural materials he finds on the family property. At Christmas he erected this driftwood spiral on Nob Hill, and installed a small door in the knot at the base of a tree near the house. Pictures by Mace Robertson
At Christmas, Robertson installed this small door in the knot at the base of a tree near the house.
Brisbane-based guerilla artist Mace Robertson created this water-filled spiral in the sand at Anaura Bay.
Out of the land.

A spiral sculpture that could be the curled head of an exotic string instrument has appeared on Nob Hill by the Wainui Road-Rutene Road intersection.

The work is by former Gisborne artist Mace Robertson who creates an artwork on his parents’ property whenever he returns to his home town. The spiral section evolves from the trunk in a continuous form. An eel-like curlicue appears to balance on a post but the structure’s interwoven driftwood pieces create an unbroken flow from ground to tip.

A short stack of pumice stones once added a vertebrae-like texture to the trunk. Because cows rub themselves against trees, Robertson mounted the driftwood assemblage on a post. Cows were not responsible for some vandalism to the work though. The human touch meant a pumice stone pattern was broken off.

As a land artist Robertson works with materials he finds at locations that inspire him to create a new piece. He doesn’t usually plan a work. He sees himself as working with nature, although he gives it a little push into a new shape.

“I see a location and local materials like rocks, sticks and bones — the work is made from whatever I stumble across. If you plan it, it might become rigid.”

In Brisbane, where he now lives, he is known as a guerilla and environmental artist whose work pops up in places people encounter largely by chance or accident.

The urban environment also offers inspiration and raw materials. At a roadworks depot, Robertson came across a pile of solidified asphalt. A pile of sand was next to it so he created spiral patterns of white sand on the black mound.

A lane in Brisbane is home to a tiny door a few centimetres in height at the foot of a wall. Robertson once found a tiny rain-soaked letter in the mailbox.

When the land artist came back to Gisborne at Christmas he used plant and tree material he found on the Kaiti property to create a small door in a knot at the foot of a tree. The door, with a window, looks like an entrance to a fairy home. Above it is a second window (not in the picture). The family plans to install an LED light behind the second window so it looks like someone is home. While back in Gisborne, Robertson also erected the driftwood spiral sculpture.

Growing up, Robertson studied art, including Maori art, and has always been drawn to the spiral form. His website is even called spiraldreaming.

“Everything in the universe spirals,” he says. “It’s all turning.”

Robertson’s interest in land art began at an early age. As a child he made driftwood huts and sandcastles and once created a huge conical form from sand.

“I made delicate architectural things out of sticks,” he says.

“The urge has always been there to do that sort of thing.”

When his family lived at Waimata Valley years ago Robertson created a huge sphere from the sticks and poplar leaves his father had pruned.

The sphere lasted for years but when he next returned to Gisborne he created a giant driftwood sphere, says his mother Judy Sheridan.

“That was amazing. He makes things out of stuff he finds on the property. He always finds thing laying around to make art out of. We used to camp at Mahia where he made rocks into beautiful objects.”

During a camping trip to Anaura Bay Robertson made two other works. One was a large sand pyramid ringed by a moat. The other was another spiral in the sand. “A small creek ran from the river to the sea. In the middle was a small lake so I made a spiral river in the sand from the little lake.”

Ephemerality is, by nature, a feature of Robertson’s work. He shares that spirit with British sculptor and photographer Andy Goldsworthy, who creates site specific works from flowers, icicles, leaves, mud, pine cones, snow, stone, twigs, and thorns.

“A lot of my own work doesn’t last forever,” says Robertson.

“I discovered Goldsworthy a few years ago and realised he was doing the same thing I was doing.”

As with Goldsworthy, photography plays a crucial role in Robertson’s art.

“You have to photograph the work because when you walk away you might never see it again. You understand that’s part of it. You don’t have to attach yourself to things. The memory is always there.”

Pictures of Robertson’s work in Gisborne, the East Coast and Brisbane can be found at https://www.instagram.com/spiraldreaming/?hl=en

A spiral sculpture that could be the curled head of an exotic string instrument has appeared on Nob Hill by the Wainui Road-Rutene Road intersection.

The work is by former Gisborne artist Mace Robertson who creates an artwork on his parents’ property whenever he returns to his home town. The spiral section evolves from the trunk in a continuous form. An eel-like curlicue appears to balance on a post but the structure’s interwoven driftwood pieces create an unbroken flow from ground to tip.

A short stack of pumice stones once added a vertebrae-like texture to the trunk. Because cows rub themselves against trees, Robertson mounted the driftwood assemblage on a post. Cows were not responsible for some vandalism to the work though. The human touch meant a pumice stone pattern was broken off.

As a land artist Robertson works with materials he finds at locations that inspire him to create a new piece. He doesn’t usually plan a work. He sees himself as working with nature, although he gives it a little push into a new shape.

“I see a location and local materials like rocks, sticks and bones — the work is made from whatever I stumble across. If you plan it, it might become rigid.”

In Brisbane, where he now lives, he is known as a guerilla and environmental artist whose work pops up in places people encounter largely by chance or accident.

The urban environment also offers inspiration and raw materials. At a roadworks depot, Robertson came across a pile of solidified asphalt. A pile of sand was next to it so he created spiral patterns of white sand on the black mound.

A lane in Brisbane is home to a tiny door a few centimetres in height at the foot of a wall. Robertson once found a tiny rain-soaked letter in the mailbox.

When the land artist came back to Gisborne at Christmas he used plant and tree material he found on the Kaiti property to create a small door in a knot at the foot of a tree. The door, with a window, looks like an entrance to a fairy home. Above it is a second window (not in the picture). The family plans to install an LED light behind the second window so it looks like someone is home. While back in Gisborne, Robertson also erected the driftwood spiral sculpture.

Growing up, Robertson studied art, including Maori art, and has always been drawn to the spiral form. His website is even called spiraldreaming.

“Everything in the universe spirals,” he says. “It’s all turning.”

Robertson’s interest in land art began at an early age. As a child he made driftwood huts and sandcastles and once created a huge conical form from sand.

“I made delicate architectural things out of sticks,” he says.

“The urge has always been there to do that sort of thing.”

When his family lived at Waimata Valley years ago Robertson created a huge sphere from the sticks and poplar leaves his father had pruned.

The sphere lasted for years but when he next returned to Gisborne he created a giant driftwood sphere, says his mother Judy Sheridan.

“That was amazing. He makes things out of stuff he finds on the property. He always finds thing laying around to make art out of. We used to camp at Mahia where he made rocks into beautiful objects.”

During a camping trip to Anaura Bay Robertson made two other works. One was a large sand pyramid ringed by a moat. The other was another spiral in the sand. “A small creek ran from the river to the sea. In the middle was a small lake so I made a spiral river in the sand from the little lake.”

Ephemerality is, by nature, a feature of Robertson’s work. He shares that spirit with British sculptor and photographer Andy Goldsworthy, who creates site specific works from flowers, icicles, leaves, mud, pine cones, snow, stone, twigs, and thorns.

“A lot of my own work doesn’t last forever,” says Robertson.

“I discovered Goldsworthy a few years ago and realised he was doing the same thing I was doing.”

As with Goldsworthy, photography plays a crucial role in Robertson’s art.

“You have to photograph the work because when you walk away you might never see it again. You understand that’s part of it. You don’t have to attach yourself to things. The memory is always there.”

Pictures of Robertson’s work in Gisborne, the East Coast and Brisbane can be found at https://www.instagram.com/spiraldreaming/?hl=en

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