The truly brilliant thing about a bicycle as a means of touring is the ease with which we can change our plans about where we want to go and that has implications for the shape of the things we see and do. There is none of the 100 kilometer per hour drive-by experience of a place. We all know that feeling. We spot something intriguing along the road and before we can fully formulate the thought, “Oh, that’s interesting. What is that?” we are long past it and cannot be bothered to stop, turn around and go exploring.
On a bike, the thought “Oh, there’s a coffee shop!” or “Oh, there’s an ice cream shop!” need not be ignored.
That’s where I found myself just the other day, in Matakana, New Zealand. Having enjoyed an afternoon at the Brick Bay Winery and Sculpture Trail, we were returning to Matakana when the “oob Organic Cafe” came into view. In the time it took to apply my brakes, I was off the road enjoying an organic ice cream cone.
As I sat in the shade outside the cafe, I pondered Matakana’s most famous public art installation, located just across the round-about. Having spent the afternoon on the Sculpture Trail at the Brick Bay Winery, my artistic neutrons were firing as I enjoyed my ice cream. What could be the artistic significance of this beautiful art form? It clearly was evocative of two people conversing. Engaged yet also separated. What did the triangular dwellings at the rear signify? They resembled canoes. Where they evocative of New Zealand’s maritime history? I contemplated this as I savored the salty-sweet juxtaposition of my licorice-blueberry treat.
I wasn’t the only one intrigued by this sculpture. I noticed people milling about it as I enjoyed my cone. In fact, quite a queue was forming. After some time, I finally noticed that the doors on these dwellings opened. Was there some further art to be explored inside?
Much to my embarrassment, it was only after much artistic deliberation did I realize that this was a public toilet! Somehow, I missed the sign indicating so, hidden but in full view.
Check out an article from the local paper regarding the controversy surrounding the toilets, here.