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The Eight Best Places to See Art for Free in Auckland

Satisfy your creative itch on the daily commute or a weekend on the cheap.
By Sarah Murphy
September 06, 2016
By Sarah Murphy
September 06, 2016

From the country's foremost outdoor sculpture exhibition to floral train stations, a tidal sound-work and submerged buildings, Auckland has an abundance of public art offerings to satisfy your creative itch on the daily commute or a weekend on the cheap. cp-lineheadlands_sculpture_mirror_web


Every year, our favourite weekend destination island hosts Sculpture on the Gulf, New Zealand's foremost outdoor sculpture exhibition. Perhaps one of the most stunning places to check out public art in Auckland, the sculpture trail takes you on an art-finding journey over two kilometres of Waiheke's headlands. With 35 sculptural works created specifically for the event, this is always a favourite on the art calendar and perfect if you're planning a summer's day date.cp-linengataonga


One of the best places of discovery in the city is none other than the Auckland Central Library and it just so happens to be one of the best places around to see video art at any time of the day or night. If you haven't already noticed the screen hanging in the window of the library, next time you walk past, be sure to spare a few moments and take a look. The Viewfinder is curated by Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision and features video works from a range of artists throughout the year. In a city buzzing with activity, this is certainly one place that will stop you in your tracks and just like a good book, you'll be drawn in while the world continues on around you.cp-lineCOMPANY_Sounds of Sea_2011 (6)


There's more than a handful of art pieces scattered along Auckland's waterfront, making it one of the best places to get a dose of public art. Just next to the draw bridge, Rachel Shearer and Hillery Taylor's The Flooded Mirror and Silt Line reveal the cycles of the tide in a sound-work that operates on a six-hour, ten-minute loop in time with the ebb and flow of the tide. Further down, you'll have no doubt have noticed the Sounds of the Sea. Yes, I'm talking about the pipes where you stand at one and whisper secrets to your friends standing at the other. They're also those things that little kids are always attempting to climb into. Oh, and if you're into a little bit of controversy, you can't go past Michael Parekowhai's State House, due for completion sometime in the near future.cp-linekamasutra2


This wouldn't be much of a public art list if it didn't include some street art and K' Road is the perfect destination to feast your eyes on work by some of New Zealand's hottest talents, with the likes of BMD, Andrew J Steel (pictured above), Askew One, Misery and Owen Dippie among the selection of artists scattered along Auckland's most vibrant strip. If you venture a little down the Upper Queen end of the road and veer off next to the motorway over-bridge, you'll also be able to check out one of Auckland's most stunning portrait pieces by Owen Dippie — you'll also get a glimpse of it just after the Symonds Street offramp if you happen to be taking a cruise along the Southern motorway.cp-line04_jpg_940x2000_q85


Probably not the first thing that you think of when you're making your way down the Southern line, but train stations around the world are known for their art and Auckland train stations have their fair share of art along the lines. While I can't guarantee that you'll see the art while you're in the train, make sure to keep your eyes peeled when you get off at the station. If you're beginning your journey at Britomart, you can't avoid Michael Parekowhai's garden of stainless steel native trees surrounding the escalators. At the entrance of the Newmarket station you'll be greeted by a floral a piece by Reuban Paterson. In Manukau look up and you'll be in for a treat. I'll leave you to discover the rest, because part of the beauty of public art, is stumbling upon it, right?cp-linedsc_0054


One of Auckland's most recognisable public art pieces is perhaps the sculpture by artist Selwyn Muru that welcomes visitors to Aotea Square in the centre of the city. Raised in 1990, Waharoa is seven metres tall and is made of wood. If you get in quick you might also catch the piano stairs leading up to Aotea Centre, they are definitely sure to put a spring in your step. If you were ever a fan of the giant piano in the Tom Hanks' film Big, this version by the same artist Remo Saraceni is sure to ignite a little bit of nostalgia.cp-lineCorner_Balconies_In_Western_Park


Another one for the photo album and a destination to put on the list when you're showing around your overseas buddies. You can't go past John Radford's sculptural installation TIP. Yes, I'm talking about those submerged buildings in Western Park that make the perfect backdrop for a holiday snap — who needs the leaning tower of Pisa, right? Western Park is also one of the city's oldest parks and dates back to the 1800s so there's a fun fact to show off while you're there.cp-lineauckland art gallery


Of course, the Auckland Art Gallery is the perfect place to view public art if you're looking for more of an indoor gallery experience. A beautiful building and more art than you can shake a stick at (I'm guessing your stick will be taken off you if you try to prove me wrong, so you'll have to take my word for it). With free entry, it makes the perfect day out and a cheap date idea that will give you bonus points for creativity. Jump into one of the free guided tours that begin at 11.30am and 1.30pm daily to find out more about the collections.cp-line

Published on September 06, 2016 by Sarah Murphy
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