New Plymouth may be out of the way (even for New Zealand) but it has now become a go-to place for art fabrication. The city has been building Len Lye sculptures since the mid-seventies when John Matthews worked with the artist to build the massive Flip and Two Twisters. Since then a number of Lye works have been fabricated by Matthews engineering company for the Len Lye Foundation.
More recently NP has been the source of the 76 highly polished stainless steel balls that make up the 2009 Anish Kapoor sculptureTall Tree. This work has been around having been shown in the UK and at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. The connection between Kapoor (who has also had work fabricated in Auckland) and Global Stainless in New Plymouth came via the internet.Global Stainless has had a web site for over 12 years and it was this site that persuaded Kapoor to order up a sample highly polished stainless steel ball, and then put in an order for a set of 76.
The secret, according to managing director, Lincoln Raikes, is that “The balls are formed after welding, a novel process that means there is no weld shrinkage - leaving a perfect sphere with no seams and a mirror finish when the process is complete.” The job took five people eight months. When the GS team was done the balls were sent down the road to TP Engineering in Wiri to be assembled on high tensile shafts.