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Anish Kapoor sculpture blends fabric and steel in New Zealand

January 1st, 2010 / By: / Landscapes

International sculptor Anish Kapoor stretches fabric and steel to manipulate views of the New Zealand seascape

“I am interested in sculpture that manipulates the viewer into a specific relationship with both space and time.” –Anish Kapoor, Tate Magazine, July 2007

The Indian-born artist Anish Kapoor is probably best known in the United States for his 2004 chrome installation piece “Cloud Gate” for the Millennium Plaza in Chicago, but Europeans—especially Londoners—will know him for his massive, bloodred, site-specific sculpture “Marsyas” displayed in the Turbine Room of the Tate Modern during its grand opening in 2002. Kapoor appreciates what engineers and tensile fabricators do because it affects his work: “I am concerned with the way in which the language of engineering can be turned into the language of the body,” he says. “Marsyas” relied heavily on the skills of both Arup for the engineering and Bo Hightex for the piece’s fabrication. (See FA, May/June 2003, p.22.)

Although the Tate sculpture was temporary, Kapoor often creates his outdoor sculptures for permanent residence. Such is the case with his recent installation for “The Farm,” a 400ha (1,000 acre) private estate outdoor art gallery in Kaipara Bay, north of Auckland, New Zealand. Kapoor’s first outdoor sculpture in fabric, “The Farm” (the sculpture is named after its site), is designed to withstand the high winds that blow inland from the Tasman Sea off the northwest coast of New Zealand’s North Island. The sculpture is fabricated in a custom deep red PVC-coated polyester fabric by Ferrari Textiles supported by two identical matching red structural steel ellipses that weigh 42,750kg each. The fabric alone weighs 7,200kg.

The ellipses are orientated one horizontal, the other vertical. Thirty-two longitudinal mono-filament cables provide displacement and deflection resistance to the wind loads while assisting with the fabric transition from horizontal ellipse, to a perfect circle at midspan, through to the vertical ellipse at the other end. The sculpture, which passes through a carefully cut hillside, provides a kaleidoscopic view of the beautiful Kaipara Harbor at the vertical ellipse end and the hand contoured rolling valleys and hills of “The Farm” from the horizontal ellipse. Fabrication and installation of the art piece is by Structurflex Ltd., of Henderson, Auckland, New Zealand, overall engineering is by Structure Design Ltd., membrane engineering by Compusoft Engineering Ltd.

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