An idea to check out a bit of outdoor art with an environmental theme has turned into a jaw-dropping feat of accomplishment which has taken Edmund Hillary Retirement Village resident Carol Jones the length and breadth of Auckland – and all using public transport!
Back in January, with the monotony of endless lockdowns wearing thin, Carol decided to go and look at some of the whale tail artworks which form part of the World Wildlife Fund’s 2022 Whale Tales Art Trail.
“I had great fun doing it!” says Carol.
“There wasn’t a lot happening at the time and I saw this and thought I would go and do a few.
“I loved the fact I was getting outdoors enjoying the fresh air. It seemed like a great thing to do.”
Carol’s first tail was spotted whilst on a village outing to Mangere and pretty soon her casual interest turned into an all-consuming obsession to tick off all 80 tails, a feat which took a total of 29 days to complete.
What makes her achievement all the more remarkable is that because Carol doesn’t drive, it meant she had to get herself from Orewa to the north, Pukekohe to the south, Henderson to the west and across to Waiheke Island via buses, trains and ferries.
“It was a case of ‘I’ve got to finish it!’” she laughs.
“And yes, it was all accomplished on public transport which I have a new respect for – and give thanks to Winston Peters for free transport – one advantage of being old!”
Carol soon learned to be prepared and to do her research beforehand for efficiency’s sake.
“Some of them are rather well hidden so I started phoning the sponsors and asking them where exactly the whale tail was.
“That made life easier, to get directions beforehand.”
Carol documented each tail she visited and says her two favourites were an Egyptian-themed one by Sofia Minson in Parnell and one near Britomart by Charlie Baptist, which was made using rubbish collected from the ocean.
“It looks like it’s covered in ceramic flowers, but when you look closer it’s made out of discarded plastic and bottle tops.”
Carol ticked off each of the tails as she travelled around Auckland.
The project involves 80 whale tails all decorated by different artists who tell their own story through their art depicted on the tail.
The tails are on display for 12 weeks before going up for auction at the end of April, with the proceeds going towards WWF and its work to protect the ocean.
There are also 82 pepi pods, mini tail sculptures, which have been turned into bespoke pieces of art by well-known and emerging kiwi artists and schools.
Whale Tales 2022 Project Director Gloria Yehia said the WWF team were blown away that Carol had visited all the tails, and all using public transport.
“Auckland is 1086 square kilometres. It took us four days to install all 80 tails, which weigh a total of 60 tonnes, so having poured our hearts and souls into this project Mrs Jones made us a little bit emotional with her mammoth effort.
“Hearing stories like her experience is an absolute blessing and inspiration for us.”
Carol is just one of around 120 people who have officially made it to all 80 tails which automatically enters her into several prize draws.
She said she is looking forward to seeing all the tails again at the Farewell Weekend where all 80 tails will be gathered together at Silo Park for a final display at the end of this month.