Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Art & The Bridge to Nowhere

"The End of the Tether," Regan Gentry. Image: Sarjeant Gallery
I loved living in Wanganui in the late eighties but I’ve always regretted not visiting the now-famous Bridge to Nowhere that was built across the Mangapurua Gorge in 1936. I was always intrigued by the notion of new settlers - discharged servicemen from World War I- arriving in this wild, enormous landscape miles from anywhere, trying to make sense of their new lives as (modern) pioneer farmers. It didn’t work. The settlement was abandoned in 1942 and the new bridge, part of a planned road designed to link Stratford to Raetihi, became a fascinating relic. To cut a long story short (which is totally against my nature I might add), that same bridge has inspired Wellington-based sculptor, Regan Gentry in the creation of his exhibition “Near Nowhere, Near Impossible,” which is showing at the Sarjeant Gallery in Wanganui until August 31. The show concludes Gentry’s six-month artist residency at the very cute Tylee Cottage. I love this work (above), “The End of the Tether,” an ambitious replica of the Bridge to Nowhere made from manila rope. It’s installed across the two front bays of the gallery’s west wing and viewers have to walk under “the thicket of hairy macramé” to enter the space.

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