Hot on the heels of its Bledisloe Way Light Boxes, Auckland City Council has unleashed another public arts venture called Micro Sites. A mixture of established artists and those moulding their craft in the nearby Learning Quarter, Micro Sites works are “…unlabelled and intended to be chanced upon”, says Councillor Greg Moyle, chairperson of the Arts, Culture and Recreation Committee. And while the Light Boxes loiter without intent round the back of a multiplex, the 15 locations on the Micro Sites trail are superbly nestled in and around world-class Albert Park.
Taking Greg’s advice, I resisted downloading a map of the Micro Sites, and stumbled upon a swing, some sounds and some shadows. Agnes So’s Super Swing leaps out of the bored concrete under the Wellesley Street East footbridge. Rachel Shearer’s Queensland Kauri instillation Imperceptible Degrees made me see the trees for the concrete wood and Amber Claire Pearson’s OK Sushimade it OK to go back in the park after dark.
If ever there was a positive sign of a council purse lavishing over a signature city attraction (in response, the devil on my shoulder just shouted “irresponsibly splashing out for more mundane but essential services” but I taped up its mouth), surely Albert Park is it: the pompous colonialism of its fountain and statues; the snuggly roots of its massive Morton Bay Figs; enough parsley in its feature beds to make soup for its homeless and the steep fallaway on the east side providing the perfect stage for Pohutukawa’s dramatic root outings.
I cannot recommend Albert Park enough for the enormous sense of wellbeing it promotes as a visually energising green-link to Auckland academic and business hubs. If it were up to me, I’d pack arriving cruise ship tourists into vans with heavily blacked out windows and deliver them straight to the entrance of this illustrious space, blissfully unaware of the hotchpotch of mucky industry, blotchy apartment-towers and simulacra shopping hub they’d have got lost in otherwise.