Leading sculptor to bring Hairy Maclary alive

By Genevieve Helliwell

One of New Zealand's leading sculptors has won the bid to immortalise Hairy Maclary and his four-legged friends in downtown Tauranga.

Brigitte Wuest of Weta Workshop was selected to sculpt the nine story-book characters who star in Dame Lynley Dodd's much-loved books. "I'm really excited. This is the perfect job for me," Mrs Wuest said.

"I love to create something from someone else's designs and turn them from a 2D drawing and creating a 3D sculpture from that, that's my strength really."<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

Mrs Wuest, who signed the commissioning agreement at Creative Tauranga yesterday, was the head sculptor for all three award-winning Lord of the Rings films and designer and sculptor on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

She was also involved with hit motion picture King Kong as the creature designer and sculptor, and created the bronze statue of Riff Raff from the Rocky Horror Show , which was unveiled in Wellington in 2004.

But creating the Hairy Maclary and Friends sculpture project was something she said would challenge her and be equally rewarding.

"I wasn't brought up with the books but my daughter loves them.

"She's 17 now and I've got a 3-year-old son and he loves them too."

"Like always with sculpture, I try to feel the character and the wind that goes through his hair. I want to make [Hairy Maclary] as lively as possible ... and I can't wait for it to all start."

Together with her husband Marco Wuest, the project will be created at the pair's Wellington company, Wuest and Wuest Sculpture and Modelling.

Mr Wuest said he was responsible for the engineering while his wife was "the artist".

When the contract was signed, Hairy Maclary author Dame Lynley Dodd said she never thought her story books would be turned into bronze sculptures.

"It was going to be just the one book and look how big it's got, it's all gone tipsy," she said.

She will also be involved in the sculpting process.

Creative Tauranga chief executive officer Tracey Rudduck-Gudsell said the next step was to raise funds. Final costs are expected to be between $800,000 and $1 million. TECT and Priority One have committed seed funding to the project and discussions are being held with Tauranga Rotary Clubs, who have pledged support.

The sculpture project will be located on the waterfront in downtown Tauranga, opposite Masonic Park.

Ms Rudduck-Gudsell hoped the sculptures would be in place by Hairy Maclary's 30th birthday in September 2013.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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