16 February 2009


"Theo Schoon, the Dutch artist, introduced me to the geothermal areas of the central North Island - areas to which I have returned many times to record on film the detail and drama of these fascinating places. Here at your feet and in the air you breathe are the feverish exhalations of volcanic activity. These sites are the art galleries of nature's creations, thrust to the surface from subterranean crucibles by steam, boiling water and gases."

Len Castle quoted by Peter Simpson in the Mountain to the Sea exhibition catalogue.

Last week, amidst some of the steamiest weather Auckland has experienced in recent times, Hawkes Bay Museum and Art Gallery curator Tanya Wilkinson opened a touring exhibition of Len Castle's geologically inspired ceramics, combined with photographs by the artist and a selection of commissioned poetry, all of which makes for a nice publication.

Amongst those places favoured by Castle and simmering with primeval forces is the volcanic heart of the North Island around Tongariro, which includes the CRATER LAKE of Mount Ruapehu, the UPPER and LOWER TAMA lakes with their wind-swept, bottle-glass surfaces, and the seemingly kiln-fired, peak of NGAURUHOE, adorned with jewel-like lake glazes HERE, HERE and HERE.

Heading north from the super-sized crater lake of Taupo are the geothermal facilities at WAIRAKEI, the many small lakes through the region, including ROTOKAWA, TIKITAPU with its strange digital surface patterning, the pale blue and strikingly titled Echo Lake (WHANGIOTERANGI) alongside the emerald green Ngakoro, and of course the bubbling mud of WAIOTAPU and WHAKAREWAREWA in ROTORUA. And then, out to sea, it is hard to miss the miles-long plume of White Island (WHAKAARI).

Speaking of smoking peaks, here's MOUNT SAINT HELENS, VESUVIUS, KRAKATOA and ETNA. Not to forget the regularly erupting island of STROMBOLI, site of a movie starring Ingrid Bergman as a frustrated new bride. This in turn inspired Woody Guthrie to write a great piece of bawdy verse in which he longed for the perty actress to make his mountain quiver, a song that went unrecorded until Billy Bragg and Wilco were allowed through the late folkster's notebooks.

Image: Len Castle, Tongariro Emerald Lake

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Art from Space is an exploration of art-related phenomena that manifests in interesting ways on Google’s aerial maps. It is also an experiment in curatorial practice; collecting, presenting and contextualising items in ways that users can explore, free of curator-imposed framing and sequencing. This blog is Art from Space’s developmental musings made public, where items are introduced to the project in real time, rather than awaiting the grand unveiling of a completed exhibition. Specific locations of interest are highlighted in CAPS and linked to a map for further exploration. Visit the mother ship HERE.