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Takapuna artwork 'Soapbox' offers a platform for all voices

Published: 10 May 2019
This concept image is an artist’s impression only and is not intended to show the exact placement of the work.

Soapbox, a new work of public art, is to be unveiled with a lake-side celebration in Takapuna on Saturday 25 May from 11am to 1pm.

The public is invited to come along to Killarney Park and step up onto this new artwork overlooking Lake Pupuke when the wraps come off for the first time.

At the ‘Soapbox Stories’ public event, crowds will enjoy performances by spoken-word artist Grace Taylor, live artist and theatre-maker Julia Croft, writer and musician Courtney Sina Meredith, and writer and director Dione Joseph. Be inspired by words, movement and sounds on the shores of Lake Pupuke.

Brought to Killarney Park by Auckland Council, the new artwork is the third in a series honouring the themes of women’s suffrage in New Zealand.

The finely textured, beautifully crafted platform was designed and built by a collective of artists in collaboration with architecture and design firm Jasmax.

The collective behind the artwork – Olivia Collinson, Vanessa Coxhead, Stephanie Darlington, Prue Fea, Jayne Kersten, and Madeleine Racz – were commissioned by Auckland Council to create the work through an expression of interest process in 2018.

The art pays homage to Kate Sheppard and her trail-blazing group of supporters who led the world and secured the vote for women in New Zealand in 1893.

Manager of Public Art at Auckland Council, Emily Trent, says: “In a new take on soapboxes, we see this contemporary work giving people a place for reflection and for enjoying the beautiful view across the lake.”

Local Board Chairperson George Wood says: “We hope our local schools will run classes here and our kindergartens will want to use it as a perfectly-scaled stage for children when the weather’s fine. We can even imagine Shakespearean characters from the annual Pumphouse productions practising their lines here.”

Architect Stephanie Darlington, who grew up on the North Shore and is one of the artists who created Soapbox, agrees.

“Killarney Park hosts the extraordinary and historic Pumphouse Theatre so there is already a connection with performing arts here.

"By positioning the work on the park’s sloping lawn, we feel the work can empower anyone who steps up and journeys to its edge.”

Soapbox is the third installation in a series of public artworks around Auckland responding to the theme of suffrage in today’s context and through the eyes of women today. The work cost $55,000 to design and fabricate.

Other artworks in the series are:

  • Kid Justice by Auckland visual artist and illustrator Erin Forsyth, installed in Crawford Reserve, Howick, in December 2018.
  • Mahi Tahi by South-Korean born New Zealand artist Jae Kang, installed in Pukekohe Town Square in March 2019.

The sculptures will be installed on permanent plinths for the next five years, after which time there will be an opportunity for another public artwork series, linked to a different theme, to take their place.

Free Public Event - SOAPBOX STORIES 

When: Saturday 25 May, 11am - 1pm

Where: Killarney Park, Takapuna - located next to the Pumphouse Theatre

Cost: Free, suitable for all ages

More info at facebook.com/events/651198895345157

Hashtag: #PublicArtAKL