International artist keeps it Kiwi for giant sculpture
The Wellingtonian, now based in Melbourne, recently launched his towering new sculpture, Windgrass, in Featherston’s Clifford Square.
The 8.5 metre brown and yellow creation is a homage to the grasses of the south Wairarapa coastline, which the artist often visited as a young man.
“It represents the bulrushes of the Wairarapa area,” says Mr Dimopoulos, an Egyptian-born Greek who was raised in Wellington.
“We used to visit Lake Ferry and go to White Rock and the Bombora for surfing. So, I’ve grown up with the native flora and fauna.
“The idea was to enlarge the bulrushes to give them a towering effect.
“When you enlarge something, people see it in a completely different light.” The sculpture is designed to move with the wind – a recurring theme for the proud Wellingtonian, whose first major sculpture Pacific Grass was made in response to the city’s famous wind.
“There’s lots of wind on the Wairarapa coast – which helped with the surf,” says Mr Dimopoulos, who used a high performance composite material to make Windgrass.
“The sculpture chatters when it moves and creates shadows. It’s quite magical to stand and watch it move and create patterns.”
Mr Dimopoulos spent 10 days in the Wairarapa working on Windgrass, which was commissioned by the Aratoi Foundation, the fundraising arm of the region’s Aratoi Museum of Art and History.
“It’s new, and it’s a bit different,”says Mr Dimopoulos (left, with Windgrass).
“One of the guys who helped me out said, ‘it’s definitely growing on me.’ Art is like that. It is there to provoke, to create discussion as well as to create an aesthetic in a space.
Mr Dimopolous’ career as an artist has spanned over 30 years, beginning with his tutelage at the Chelsea College of Art and Design in London in 1978.
He has since gone on to exhibit his art internationally, with public sculptures in collections around the USA and Australia, and create art installations in response to social issues.
Most notable of these is The Blue Trees which is appearing all over North America, from Vancouver, to Sacramento and Florida, and next year in Houston, Atlanta and New York City.
“Art can be an incredibly powerful tool. It helps us get the issue of deforestation onto the front cover of a magazine, not the back pages,” says Mr Dimopolous.
“I’m interested in whether art can change the way we think.”
He is currently working on a project called Purple Rain, which makes comment about homelessness.
Mr Dimopoulos says has enjoyed coming back to New Zealand and attending the launch of Windgrass – which featured a presentation from Featherston School pupils.
“I hope these children grow up to see the sculpture and think, ‘I can do something like that.’
Mr Dimopolous will return to New Zealand in January, when he will be installing a sculpture for Sculpture On The Gulf on Waiheke Island.