Pukekura Park in New Plymouth is a lovely green and well-tree'd hilly space, the slopes surrounding peaceful waterways. Located in a valley described as originally swampy and tree-less, since 1876 it has been shaped (creating an open central lake meandering into a sleepy sheltered upper lake, a number of smaller ponds, a fountain and water cascade that play on request) and planted with exotic and native trees and plants to make that curious mix that is a garden - nature groomed for our pleasure. The upper lake area is still, reflective, the exotic and native plants a lush and dense presence on odd little islets and on the water's edge. Such a space creates an atmosphere that is evocative -
we are inclined to project our feelings and ideas onto it - it can be experienced as mysterious, peaceful, magical, foreboding, comforting, and so much more. If we linger we can breathe in the scents of plants and water and soil, and hear the quiet sounds of the life around us.
And then - this bright apparition.
A sculpture, The Golden Bearing by Reuben Paterson, on the Boatshed lawn, an opening amidst the trees. Descriptions of the sculpture, a golden glittering 'archetypal tree form' installed in a park - 'an unnatural environment of natural beauty' - suggest that the work questions ideas of artificiality, reality and 'natural' environments, and that it references many ideas including the concept of the golden mean, classical composition and the framing of images, of focal point and navigation by the glittering stars (nga whetu), and so on.
At 4.5 metres tall it was imposing and arresting. It clearly delighted people who came upon it while I was there. Some seemed to want to climb it, others asked "is it real?" I am not sure how much thinking really happened - a lot of snaps were taken, including mine. And I was left wondering about thinking and feeling, our senses and emotions, and how we connect and relate to nature. And while I appreciated the stimulus to think about things, I was pleased to resume walking amongst the trees, soaking up the quiet and green and turning off the thoughts for a bit.