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From the Resene News - issue 4/2016

Colour folly - Daughter of the Swamp

From the Resene Total Colour Awards gallery of entries

Resene Total Colour Awards 2016
Colour folly

Brick Bay Sculpture Trust’s brief was for a project that would offer a contemporary interpretation of the architectural folly, a building type that was popular among the Romantics and Picturesque thinkers of the 18th and 19th centuries. The brief called for an exploration of the intersections between architecture and sculpture and an investigation of how the two disciplines could relate to the landscape of Brick Bay.

As a folly is a structure without discernible purpose, there was no functional program to follow.  The team looked to the site’s context for inspiration on what the folly might be. The grassy slope beside a quiet pool of water led to considering myths of eels and hinaki which led to Maui, who legend has it was the first to catch the long eel, and his wife Hina, the daughter of the swamp. Inspired by these stories the folly became an enormous eel pot, marooned on the shore.

The folly is constructed from steel reinforcing bar which has been laboriously painted in Resene Armourcote 221 to prevent corrosion and Resene Enamacryl gloss waterborne enamel and is held in place with hundreds of subtle, welded connections. The steel, with its heavy associations of industrial progress and the modern age is put to an unexpected use in its emulation of a soft, traditional object. By carefully bending the straight sections, large gently curving arches are formed, revealing the material’s unrealised artistic potential. By overlapping and repeating these forms an effect like that of the delicately woven eel traps is achieved.

The folly became an enormous eel pot, marooned on the shore
Colour folly structure

As well as its innovative use of an overlooked material, the folly’s creativity lies in its highly contextual response to its site. Its dynamic form undulates with the slope and snakes between the trees establishing a deliberate relationship with its surroundings. Its entrance is carefully positioned so that visitors catch a tantalising glimpse of it as they approach. Once inside, the folly’s form creates an interface between the viewer and their surroundings. It offers a space to pause and observe the landscape before walking the trail. Children (and eager adults) have completed the experience by crawling out through its tail. The folly is an experiment in how design can be informed by place.

Colour folly structure Colour folly structure

The chosen colours, Resene Pohutukawa (spicy rich red), Resene Hacienda (rich ochre) and Resene Double Barely There (pale bone white), reinforce the folly’s concept as they have simultaneous associations with the modern and the traditional and with both the natural or the manmade. Playing off contemporary reinterpretations of the hinaki basket they recall the colour palettes of Gordon Walters’ seminal prints while also having an inherent relationship to the tones of the landscape.

The folly’s very carefully selected palette of Resene colours have been planned to complement not only each other but every season. In autumn the chosen colours blend softly with their autumnal backdrop. In winter they contrast dramatically against the greys and browns of the surrounding winter trees. In summer they accentuate the bright, playfulness of the environment.

A dynamic form
Colour folly structure

As both the designers and fabricators of Daughter of the Swamp its construction posed a particular challenge given its detailing was entirely nonstandard. As fabricators, the sheer amount of painting that was required to cover the six kilometres of steel reinforcing bar used in the folly was a considerable task completed, with many helpers, in a four-week timeframe. The amount of painting equated (if the reinforcing bar had been laid out flat) to walking both up and down the length of Queen Street in Auckland twice.

Daughter of the Swamp won the Resene Total Colour Maestro Nightingale Award and the Resene Total Colour Installation – Experiential - Product Award. The judges commented “A spectacular installation, the form and colour is completely welcoming and draws you in. Irresistible to young and old, it entices you to traverse through for a moving colour experience as the palette of three colours appears to dance when viewed on different angles.

The colour is thoroughly integrated, rippling through, just as the land does beneath it. The installation creates standalone excitement; it's stunning, whimsical, but yet retains a sense of fragility. With each new viewing angle, the colours play off each other and the installation's form in a new way.

Just stunning, a stand out use of colour."

Folly design and creation: Alexander Sacha Milojevic, Raphaela Rose,
Ryan Mahon and Edward Roberts
Client: Brick Bay Sculpture Trust
Painting contractor: Ed McKelvey
Photographer: Alexander Goh and Samuel Hartnett

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