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  Tanya Ashken: Albatross

Tanya Ashken: Albatross. Image by Amy Schulz Photography

The Wellington Sculpture Trust came into being with the creation of of Albatross, under the inspiration of Dr Ian Prior and Henry Lang. The sculpture itself started life as an idea for three abstract shapes interacting with themselves and their intermingling spaces. The water was always a part of it, evoking feelings of rocks and the sea. The name came suddenly in a moment of inspiration!

''I have always been fascinated by the Albatross, its size, its power and its awesome grace. My sculpture is large and white and of the sea. There is a realistic albatross there too, as I realised when the sculpture was being built. I now think of it as a lament for the albatrosses as they disappear from this planet."

Tanya Ashken


Hone Tuwhare wrote a poem in honour of the occasion: 

Toroa: albatross
Hone Tuwhare

Day and night endlessly you have flown effortless of wing
over chest-expanding oceans far from land.
Do you switch on an automatic pilot, close your eyes
in sleep, Toroa?

On your way to your home-ground at Otakou Heads
you tried to rest briefly on the Wai-o-te-mata
but were shot at by ignorant people.
Crippled, you find a resting place at Whanganui-
a-Tara; found space at last to recompose

And now without skin and flesh to hold you
together the division of your aerodynamic parts
lie whitening, licked clean by sun and air
and water.

Children will discover narrow corridors of
airness between, the suddenness of bulk.
Naked, laugh in the gush and ripple –
the play of light on water.

You are not alone, Toroa. A taniwha once tried to break out of the
harbour for the open sea. He failed.
He is lonely. From the top of the mountain nearby he calls to you:
Haeremai, haeremai,
welcome home, traveller.

Your head tilts, your eyes open to the world.


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