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Art takes centre stage at Splore

An interactive visual art programme designed to challenge and stimulate its audience will take ce


An interactive visual art programme, designed to challenge and stimulate its audience, will take centre stage at the eighth Splore festival, from February 19 - 21. The biennale three-day summer festival at Tapapakanga Regional Park is renowned for integrating creative disciplines.

An interactive visual art programme, designed to challenge and stimulate its audience, will take centre stage at the eighth Splore festival, from February 19 - 21. The biennale three-day summer festival at Tapapakanga Regional Park is renowned for integrating creative disciplines.

Under the direction of new Art Curator, Shea O’Neill, this year’s art programme will see eye catching installations, spill over from ‘The Art Trail’, and weave throughout the site, allowing artworks to merge with the stunning natural setting of woods, beach and sea.

Designed as site specific interactive artworks, the art displays are by a diverse cross section of contemporary New Zealand artists, including architects, film makers, painters, writers, video artists, sculptors, photographers, spatial designers and performance artists. To complement the overall aesthetic feel of the festival, the projects have been chosen for their interactivity and innovation.

Speaking of the Splore 2010 programme, O’Neill said "In response to the unique challenges of the Splore environment, this year’s eclectic line up of talented artists have pushed the boundaries of art and technology, to produce an interactive art adventure, that will open your mind, warp your senses and enlighten your imagination. Expect retro, future, giant, neon, steam-punk, cycle-powered, nude, time travelling, pop art, multimedia, experimental, interactive, FUN."

O’Neill, who is behind the online magazine, selected 21 projects to feature at the festival.  He says the selection process was purely project focused, rather than name based.

“The Splore ethos is to provide artists’ with a unique opportunity to present their works in sublime natural surrounds where audiences are responsive to art that invites participation and engagement, and challenges everyday notions of what art is,” he says.

It may sound utopian, a place where music, art and nature merge to inspire a weekend of joyous celebration but Splore is rapidly becoming known as one of the most energetic and inspirational multi-media contemporary arts events in the country. Amongst this year’s artists are acclaimed interdisciplinary artists; Christian Nicholson and Brydee Rood, painters; Liam Moore and Tracey Tawhiao, sculptors; Chris Hargreaves and Stuart Forsyth, multimedia artists; The Hang Out and Nikki Hastings-McFall, and sound artist; Fraser Bruce.

Splore 2010 will also mark the return of Cut Collective to the festival. The group is made up of six like-minded individuals with varied personal histories in art making, who worked spontaneously and informally together over a number of years, before forming Cut Collective. In 2008, their festival work featured a number of large scale interactive 3-d puzzles that received a positive response from festival goers.

This time round, Cut Collective have teamed up with architect Jasper Middleton, and employed optical trickery, to push the idea of painted sculpture even further. Collective member, Regan Vause says, “For Cut Collective, Splore is a perfect chance for us to push our own boundaries and take the opportunity to work with artists from different disciplines. In this case, working with Jasper, we are creating a painted architectural sculpture. This is something we have wanted to explore for a while now, and Splore is the exact excuse we needed to make something happen.”

Another Splore artist, Martin Horspool creates robots from disused household objects, collected from kerb sides, car boots, markets, scrap yards, antique shops and auction houses. Over the last two years, he has built and exhibited over 70 ‘RETROBOTS’ of all shapes and sizes, but this year at Splore, he has had to up-size his robot ideas for his largest robot ever. 

“I usually make smaller pieces; around two feet high but Splore have challenged me to produce on a grander scale, to present a life size robot and I’m excited to be taken out of my comfort zone. I am aware that at a festival like Splore, it may be a young person’s first introduction to contemporary outdoor sculpture. My own interest in scrap metal sculpture started at Glastonbury festival, so hopefully, my being at Splore’s Art Trail will inspire a new generation of artists to pick up some power tools.”

Most of his robots contain original pieces, from the 1950s and 60s; an era he believes was the best time period for industrial design.

“For me, it is important that people take a second look at the individual components that make up a piece of my work, and ideally, I would like an audience to appreciate the old fashioned quality of the objects and feel a nostalgia for that time.”

Splore has an impressive track record of promoting recognised arts practitioners and nurturing talented emerging artists from a broad spectrum of disciplines, including music, visual arts, performance and new media. Since the festival’s inception in 1998, Splore has culminated as an integrated arts event, attracting a high calibre of New Zealand and international artists. Previous Splore festivals have had projects presented by Louise Purvis, Ani O’Neill, Jeff Thompson, Jill Sorenson, Chris Charteris, Warren Viscoe, Peter Stoneham, Emily Siddell and Katie Wallace.

Combining visual arts and live performance, with community interaction and environmental consciousness, means Splore isn’t as much a festival as a life experience, says Splore founder and director Amanda Wright.  

“We have 8000 people from all over the country and globe flock to Tapapakanga Regional Park. It really is an idyllic spot for this type of event, just 70km south east of Auckland, on the Hauraki Gulf, where 200 year old trees, entwine with interactive art installations. The awesome location creates this relaxed environment you can immerse yourself in for a few days with your friends, in amongst great music, performance and art.”

At the festival site, entertainment is divided through multiple zones and music genres. The 2010 festival’s music headliners are Basement Jaxx and Lupe Fiasco, who will perform alongside a diverse mix of international and local acts.

The Living Lounge is an eclectic space that hosts a variety of performances including spoken word, comedy, theatre, music, circus, cabaret, film and workshops. Among these events will be a Saturday night themed party ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream 2050’, where the audience is invited to engage and explore the fantasy of the era, by theming themselves, their dress and their persona. The Mid-summer’s Night’s Dream 2050 theme carries over to some of the art installations, dotted around the site.

Wright claims, once you’ve been to Splore, people can’t seem to get enough of it.

“While music and art underpin the festival, there really is so much to experience at Splore. People get blown away and really excited by all the festival content and the whole experience. The biggest complaint we get - is that we don’t have a Splore every year.”

In 2010, the Splore festival will be held over three days, February 19th - 21st for the third time at the stunning beach location of Tapapakanga, 70km south east of Auckland. For information on the festival’s line-up, and to keep up to date on announcements, please visit

Tickets are available from iTICKET ( Tickets cost $185. Youth rates are $85 and children 12 and under are free.

Written by


14 Jan 2010

Interests Splore is a summer outdoor festival devoted to art, culture and community.