Friday, 11 October 2013

Honolulu Museum of Art, Spalding House

Quite by chance we found out about Spalding House, a private, nonprofit museum dedicated exclusively to contemporary art in Honolulu. The perfect place in which to spend some time on our last full day in Hawaii.

On walking through the front door we were greeted by a fabulous view of the gardens and a large mirror and fibreglass construction by modernist sculptor, James Seawright, Mirror XV, 1987
Set in beautiful gardens of about 3.5 acres the house, built in 1925, integrates both Asian and Western design and was donated in 1986 by the then owner (Thurston Twigg-Smith) to the newly formed Contemporary Museum of Hawaii, which opened in 1988.

The gardens were originally landscaped between 1921- 1941 by the Reverend K. H. Inagaki. He had been disabled in a car accident and had gone on to organise every aspect of the garden design with wheelchair use in mind.

Incorporating the Japanese doctrine of shizen (nature) into the garden, he used rocks as pathways and as edge stones, painstakingly selecting stones, and their placement, to subtly emphasize the the natural terrain and beauty of the place, transforming what had been a barren ravine into a classic Japanese stroll or promenade garden.

A truly lovely place.
In the background of the previous image is what looks like a horse sculpture made from driftwood, however upon close inspection it is in fact a bronze. American artist, Deborah Butterfield.

This summer Spalding House is holding an exhibition to explore the relationships between music and art, Now Here This. A series of focused exhibitions that show how the two disciplines complement and resonate with each other.

The most obvious difference between art and music is that one is seen and the other is heard, Noise Machine 1, 2013 by Pas de Chocolat attempts to visualise music and sound through abstraction in a virtual sound playroom activated by movement - a mix of computer software, infrared sensors from XBOX game consoles and video projection. 

When the 'viewer' walks into a specific area a sound, somewhat like a harpsichord, is triggered and abstract marks made with light play upon a dark surface along with the shadow from the viewer. In this case me and my shadow . . .

It definitely brings out the inner child, I found myself happily pirouetting and twirling to make the effects!

Swedish artist and film maker Johannes Nyholm showed Twice, a shadow puppet animated music video inspired by Indonesian Wayang Kulit shadow puppets.

In particular I liked the shadows thrown by the puppets from their glass cases
Unfortunately for us the cafe closes at 2pm on a Sunday so by the time we'd finished our rambles around the museum and the grounds we'd missed our chance of a sit down and drink.

But, on second thoughts, did we really want to sit with these bears for company?! . . .


  1. Enjoying these posts very much, Mavina. Thanks for the window onto another world.

  2. Thanks Ama, I feel really fortunate to visit places like this.

    1. We are fortunate! I'm spending a month on the Isle of Lewis, house-sitting. It's bliss!