Home' Waiheke Weekender : 12 July 2012 Contents Waiheke Weekender 5
12 July 2012
Her own journey started in Kawakawa Northland in 1946 and
took her to the Wellington Polytechnic School of Design, then later
to Elam at the University of Auckland and the Chelsea Art School
Initially working in paint and printmaking, she says she reached
a sort of epiphany about her future artistic direction when she was
taking a group of PEP scheme workers on a visit to a quarry in
Western Springs, Auckland.
“My youngest son Luke had started school and I was looking at
that stone quarry and feeling envious. I knew I’d struck a chord.”
A series of monumental works in Hinuera stone followed and
then bronze, aluminium, stainless steel, earth, sand and wood.
The earth work is extraordinary; a huge koru shape – 80 metres
in diameter across mounds and 10 metres tall – carved into the green
hills of Brick Bay in North Auckland.
A level space at the centre creates a performance area and narrow
walkways across the lake link the first three islands and, according
to the glossy 2005 book Virginia King Sculptor, “transport visitors,
pukeko and an occasional sheep in to the Koru entry”.
Made to celebrate the essence of life at Brick Bay, it is so large
you can even see it on Google Earth.
Looking at the grand scale of this sort of work, something that
continually intrigues non-artists is where all these big visions start.
How can she look at a piece of steel, a mound of earth or a block
of wood and set about into shaping it so confidently into a thing of
“I start with an idea that I draw on paper. And that could be just
an idea I’ve had or something someone has commissioned me to
make. Then that gets scanned (son Luke now works in the digital
media side of the business) and I will have another look at it and
maybe make some changes. Then if it’s a stainless steel work, I am
out at a welding workshop in East Tamaki by 7.30am most morn-
ings working alongside my welder there who has worked with me
for a number of years.
“The laser-cut steel is pressed and formed and I’m always pres-
ent as the works progress, to make decisions and mark each weld.
My welder once said ‘I’m just the glue’.”
And she always wears gloves and has tweezers on hand because
it’s easy, and nasty, to get the metal grindings imbedded in your
So from there, the piece takes shape and is eventually trans-
ported to its new home; which in King’s case, could mean a beach,
a lake, or suspended from a pohutukawa overlooking the Hauraki
Or – in the case of her current exhibition at Cable Bay – a
space that offers both inside and outside locations.
“For me it was a fantastic invitation from Cable Bay to exhib-
it my work until February next year, because it’s not often that
somewhere is big enough to house some of my larger work as well
as display the smaller pieces.”
The distinctive metal work Radiolaria, from a recent headland
Sculpture on the Gulf exhibition is displayed inside at Cable Bay,
giving it a whole new context.
“All the works at Cable Bay are for sale; I find that I can keep
a work for quite a long time and then suddenly I’ll sell two on the
I imagine finding somewhere to store these large works must
“Yes it’s always great to sell them,” she laughs. Although her
Waiheke house doesn’t seems to suffer from the clutter effect.
Aside from a few smaller works, it has just two of her own larger
pieces on the lounge walls; one a wood piece shaped in a coral
pattern and the other a raft made of recycled kauri with individual
planks fanning out inscribed with words.
“Down one side it has a poem by T.S.Eliot and down the other,
words by poet Octavio Paz, both as it turned out, perfectly connect-
ed in their themes.”
Words are a notable feature of many of King’s works and she
admits to a passion for good writing and poetry in particular.
“I don’t write poetry myself but I like the idea of collecting and
Interesting corners and views in
Virginia’s Waiheke home.
Virginia with her precious shell collection:
she admits to a passion for collecting
interesting natural objects.
145 Ocean View Rd Tel 372 7174
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