Essay

Place

Lloyd Osborne and Shabnam Shiwan

Our place in the world is defined by the place in our hearts. Tāmaki Makaurau is our home, an anchor to who we are and what we create. Formed from violent volcanic eruptions, the landscape undulates with an intense purpose. Large grassy calderas and soaring tuff cones give way to jet black sand beaches and the great forest of Tiriwa. To the north lies aquamarine waters and the bays, with their soothing ways and warm embrace. To the south lies the majority of our populace and its heady mix of culture and newness. From wild, rugged harbour to calm, gentle coast, we journey this narrowest of lands. Our travels throughout this far flung place inform us, teach us, guide us to a better understanding of what has come before and the possibilities of what could be. You too bear witness to a sun that is bright to leave no shadows. The Finns in our waters tell us about the seasons, commonplace within a single day.  We spread, and keep spreading. The character of our tin-roofed, colonial past, with its weatherboard back to the sun, contrasts with the terraced understanding of our high places and their fortified outlook.   We work. We live. The tilt of concrete slabs adjoin the anthracite steel and warm glow of angled louvres, too many to count. Our tree house, by way of Eames, our Corbusian dream, surrounds us with delight and awe. Birdsong erupts as shellfish drops from the sky, rolling with great din from above, towards a beaky meal. We hear the surrounding whisper of palm fronds doing battle with the galvanised gutter and its aqueduct-like flow. Somewhere, over the end of a rainbow, lies not gold, but gastronomic diversity. The busy market vibrates with the energy of the Pacific. Lush greens and soft pinks transmogrify to pure sensation on our many tongues. Rotor blades look down on our home to see a green pungent crop, as uniformed men jump fences to confront our humble garden of immigrant beans.  Nestled within blazing red pōhutukawa and soaring kauri sits a remote village, a fringe of heaven. Architects, with unfinished homes on stilts and potters with mad gleams in their eyes coalesce beside the bustle of the busy asphalt. Through Maurice, we see the bar of McCahon’s making, removed to another place, but not forgotten. Fluffy canines and tight white pants fill our vision towards the east. Our division is perceptible but our unity is glorious through the common love of fish and chips. The throng of the sweaty crowd gather to the shore. Togs, togs, undies blur the line between sand and shop as we smuggle budgies across the great divide, a sight that cannot be unseen. Through sun and sleet, the aged belles of the beach don their rubber daisies as they stride with purpose towards the cresting foam. At the centre of it all is our metropolis, our thoroughfares of Karangahape and Khyber, of Ponsonby and Parnell. Our Queen resides within, forever waiting to relinquish her many vehicles to pedestrians and her sovereignty to our own self-determination. From many nations we journey, weaving a single strand that, in turn, changes how we think, how we design. Through this place, we endeavour to create our own visual language, building upon varied backgrounds and experiences to create something that is familiar, yet unique. Telling our stories, our way. This is our aroha for Auckland. This is our place.


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Founded in 2006, Osborne Shiwan is an Auckland-based brand agency specialising in strategic thinking and art direction. Creative Directors Lloyd Osborne and Shabnam Shiwan have worked with some of New Zealand’s most influential brands and their work has been recognised internationally within the areas of commerce, arts and culture.

Place, Osborne Shiwan, 2019. Image: Samuel Hartnett.