Hairy Maclary coming to life

Fresh pictures of Hairy Maclary taking form in the studio of Wellington artist Brigitte Wuest have been revealed for the first time, offering a taste of what's to come.

Dame Lynley Dodd's storybook character will be immortalised in bronze with his eight friends in a sculpture destined for Tauranga's waterfront next year. The sculpture will cost $800,000 including maintenance.

It has taken about three weeks for Hairy Maclary's image to form at the hands of the Ms Wuest, of Weta Workshop. For now, the scruffy black dog is a mass of sculpted plasticine. "He's not finished yet," Ms Wuest said.

The sculpture was created from a base of polystyrene which was then mounted on to a steel brace and sculpted with plasticine.<inline type="photogallery" id="13426" align="outside" embed="no" />

From this the Hairy Maclary piece will be covered with silicon to form a mould, which will then be taken to a creative cast bronze foundry - where the scampering pooch will be immortalised in metal.

Ms Wuest will then do the same again with eight of Hairy Maclary's friends including Zachary Quack the duck. "Usually that's what I like to do, working with someone's illustrations and to get into the character and to feel them alive," Ms Wuest said.

It is anticipated the complete sculpture, which depicts Hairy Maclary and friends chasing Slinky Malinky up a pole, will be completed and erected by Hairy Maclary's 30th birthday on July 30, 2013. Ms Wuest said there was something special about nearly completing Hairy Maclary as the first character in the project. "He's the main character. In a way it's a shame to do the main character first. I hope it won't spoil the end effect," she said.

The sculpture is being funded by the community and installed by Creative Tauranga, with ownership to be vested in the council.

Creative Tauranga chief executive Tracey Rudduck-Gudsell said she was pleased with the progress. "He's very much alive to look at, and that's what we wanted. It's very hard to take a storybook character and put life into them. So we are very impressed," she said.

The next character to be created is Bottomly Pots, all covered in spots. Ms Rudduck-Gudsell said Ms Wuest did a lot of research into her projects, often using photos as reference points.

While most of the characters were taken care of, Ms Rudduck-Gudsell said they would love to hear from anyone who had photos of bull mastiffs, especially lying down. These would help Ms Wuest when she starts work on Hercules Morse, as big as a horse.

If anyone thinks they can help, they are asked to email <inline type="photogallery" id="13426" align="outside" embed="no" />

- Bay of Plenty Times

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