Waikokota Lane in Aucklands Wynyard Quarter tunnels through between the two blocks of the award-winning ASB building: glass to symbolise the transparency of the bank (yeah, right) and a monumental mural by Michael Parkowhai entitled “Achy Breaky Heart”. This is what the interpretive plaque says about it:
Achy Breaky Heart is a wall of bright, over-sized Cuisenaire rods, stacked upon each other in patterns to create the illusion of movement and rhythm. The rods become lines of colour – connecting, forming partnerships and dancing before your eyes. The glossy surface of Achy Breaky Heart reflects the environment and the surrounding glass reflects the work.
Cuisenaire rods were developed in the 1950s for maths education and each colour has a mathematical unit connected to it. The white rod is 1, the red rod is two, and the orange rod is 10. The title of the work, Achy Breaky Heart, is a nod to Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie and – of course – to the early 1990s pop song and line dancing.
Michael Parekowhai was born in Porirua and grew up on Auckland’s North Shore. He works in the disciplines of sculpture, installation and photography and is a professor of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland.