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In 1993, John and Jo Gow bought a 60-acre coastal property on Waiheke Island, a 30-minute ferry ride from Auckland, New Zealand, intending to restore the property from sheep pastures to all-native plants. Years later, realizing they had created “outdoor rooms,” they decided to install sculpture suited to each unique setting on the property.
In this podcast, John Gow tells the story of creating what eventually became the Connells Bay Sculpture Park, now well known around the world for its more than 30 sophisticated and surprising site-selected sculptures exclusively by New Zealand’s leading contemporary artists. About half the pieces have been commissioned from sculptors invited to stay in one of the property’s cottages and develop a vision without interference from their benefactors, who appreciate the process, the art and the relationships that emerge.
Before opening Connells Bay, John Gow, a former banker, raised funding for musical theater in major cities such as London and New York, including “Cats,” “Les Miserables,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “Miss Saigon.” He and Jo Gow applied their considerable energy in 2002 to co-founding with others “Sculpture on the Gulf,” a bi-annual event that displays juried art along a 2– to 3-mile walkway on Waiheke Island. They’re also helping to organize the International Sculpture Center’s Feb. 11–15, 2013 annual conference in Aukland, hoping to bring greater recognition to New Zealand’s burgeoning sculpture community.
The artists represented at Connells Bay Sculpture Park, open from mid-October to mid-April for guided tours.
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