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Horseshoe Spheres sculpture rolls onto Hauraki Rail Trail

02 July 2019

The latest addition to the Kopu to Thames Sculpture Trail on the Hauraki Rail Trail was unveiled today – The Spheres, by Paeroa artist Mark Hayes.

The Spheres unveiling

(Photo, left to right: Among The Spheres are Thames Public Art Trust Chair Paul Silvester, The Spheres artist Mark Hayes, Thames Public Art Trust Committee Chair Rob Johnston.)

The work consists of three spheres made of horseshoes, which now sit by the Rail Trail as it passes Sir Keith Park Memorial Airfield, on the south side of Thames. A solar-powered light installed at the base of each of the spheres will illuminate the installations at night.

Mr Hayes, who donated the sculptures, says his inspiration was a story his grandfather told him when he was young, about how miners from the Karangahake Gorge would come to Thames to visit the pubs for a big night out, and after sampling all that Thames had to offer would get back on their horses and fall asleep. The horses knew the way and would simply walk back down the road until they got home. Their route would follow what is now the Hauraki Rail Trail.

The Rail Trail Sculpture Trail is a project led by the Thames Public Art Trust, who have already installed a piece called The Jandal on the same stretch of the Rail Trail. The Art Trust has several other sculptures in varying stages of readiness that they plan to install along the Kopu to Thames section of the Rail Trail.

The sculptures will serve as “visual breadcrumbs” to draw cyclists along the trail, add a focus at rest stops and add to the visitor appeal of Thames.

Bringing art to Thames

Mayor Sandra Goudie at unveiling of The Spheres

(Photo: Mayor Sandra Goudie)

“It’s a brilliant job that the Thames Public Art Trust is doing,” says Mayor Sandra Goudie. “I can’t thank them enough for the amazing sculptures being showcased in Thames. We are unbelievably grateful for these gifts, and how more high profile can you get with an exhibition sitting along the State Highway that hundreds of thousands of people coming into the district can see,” Mayor Sandra says.

“Thanks to Mark Hayes who donated his sculpture – how wonderful is that?” Mayor Sandra says.

Paul Silvester, the Chair of the Thames Public Art Trust acknowledged the support of our Council and local businesses to the Sculpture Trail.

The Thames Community Board has provided $25,000 in grants, Smart Environmental has donated $15,000 plus contributed to maintaining the landscaping around sculptures, Kopu Engineering has donated work and time to mounting both The Jandal and The Spheres and Stop Digging helped with installing The Spheres on long metal screws that secure them to the ground.

“Keep watching these spaces up the trail and down the trail,” Mr Silvester says. “It’s all happening.”

Rob Johnston, Chair of the Thames Public Art Trust Committee, thanked the Hauraki Rail Trail Trust for its support of the Sculpture Trail project.

Other sculptures the Thames Public Art Trust have in the pipeline for the Trail are The Speeding Train by Raglan artist Stuart Shepherd – winner of the sculpture design competition the Trust held in 2018; Miners’ Gates by Thames artist John McKeown; and a metal sculpture of a penny-farthing cyclist donated by Thames artist Bruce Harper. Work is ongoing to have the first two of these sculptures built and finding suitable locations for all three.