Daniel Eaton Watershed Dark

  • Tauira / Student
    Daniel Eaton
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Rachel Carley, Rafik Patel

An exploration of architecture as installation, located in the Auckland Domain Wintergarden Fernery. The design takes cues from the surrounding volcanic context of Pukekawa and the site's freshwater springs, once the original water source of Auckland. Burnt salvaged Tōtara, Basalt stone and burnished bronze mark an ancient use of material. The piece proposes a layered sense of history, communicating a primal darkness in concert with a temporary, mysterious installation experience.
The installation centres around two interventions:

Aroma Tablet
Two Basalt blocks elevated by burnt Tōtara sleepers. Tension in weight. Flower pulp beads, made from the Wintergardens fallen petals, can be ground into the surface, making the stone a document of scent—a volcanic reminder of place.

The Watershed
A distillation of the Domain. The humble garden shed, a site of cultural significance (and appropriate response to its garden context). A study in burnt reclaimed Tōtara. Residing above a rock pool in the depths of the quarry, the shed is a conduit for water. On encounter, small exterior slits permit only our gaze to witness the interior darkness;

a bronze springwater spout
a bronze bark bowl
and an ephemeral drip of reflecting water.

'See the rippling reflections that disrupt the interior dark.
Hear the dripping water, soothing the shed's burnt wood bones.
Ephemeral echoes of water and light reflect.
Waihorotiu spring still flows.'

Tethered to its context, a connection to the original freshwater springs that supplied water to Tāmaki Makaurau in the 1860s was key. A philosophical response to the quarry, a scar on the earth similar to a crater. Flower pulp beads, ground from violet, rose, and other exotic petals mark a botanic reminder of flora's inseparable connection to water. Scent is ephemeral in the physical world, but not in memory. Ground back and forth into stone, it is a ritual act with resonance to the magical gardens. The installation seeks to engage the scenes by denying them. The Watershed denies sight, where The Aroma tablet allows vivid floral scent. Together an uncanny unit is formed, each suggesting the negative space of its pair. The moon's pull causes the tides to rise and fall, and equally plant growth and soil moisture. Here, darkness is a manifestation of Vā. The moon is witness to the history of the Domain, and a particular site holds significance. Pukekaroa is the Domain's central scoria cone, marking the site where Pōtatau Te Wherowhero once lived, and the tribal relationships formed there between Waikato tribes, Ngāti Whātua and Ngāpuhi. Princess Te Puea Herangi planted a Tōtara tree here to commemorate the first centenary of the Treaty of Waitangi signing. Interestingly, the quarry excavated in 1913 falls just a few meters away. This installation is in direct response to this rich, turbulent history, in the same breath as Rachel Whiteread's ‘Detached 1’ (2012) and Cornelia Parker's ‘Cold Dark Matter’ (1991), each with a humble shed as their muse.

The term watershed refers to a 'turning point'. The poetics of this installation lie in this defining moment.