Brownlee, Sutton gnomes star at Christchurch flower show

By Amanda Cropp

Gnonmified stars of the Christchurch Festival of Flowers - Gerry Brownlee (l) and Roger Sutton. Photo / Amanda Cropp
Gnonmified stars of the Christchurch Festival of Flowers - Gerry Brownlee (l) and Roger Sutton. Photo / Amanda Cropp

Gerry Brownlee and Roger Sutton gnomes are a big hit at a Christchurch Festival of Flowers exhibit and the designer is seeking permission to make further replicas as a charity fundraiser.

The "gnomified" Earthquake Minister and CERA head appear in a floral display based around a 28 square metre hanging garden, along with three GERA (Gnome Earthquake Recovery Authority) gnomes sporting hard hats and high-viz vests.

The exhibit called "She'll be right" is a whimsical take on the rebuild of the city. Designer Craig Pocock says the Botanic Gardens where the festival is being staged was a bit nervous about the political gnomes and insisted that artist Evan Gardner made only one of each.

"We had to provide an image of them before they would sign off on the green wall going in the gardens, and my understanding is that they went through the Christchurch City Council and CERA to approve the whole lot."

Security was also required. "The gnomes had to go away at night and be locked up, not left on site, in case someone stole them and did inappropriate things with them."

The gnomes go up for auction after the festival ends on Saturday and Pocock says interest in them has been so high, he wants permission to make a few more as a fundraiser.

"I think they'd sell for several hundred dollars each. Couldn't you imagine Winston Peters wanting a Gerry Brownlee on his desk? I think they'd sell like hot cakes. I had someone from New York, an ex-client of mine who is an art dealer, wanting one."

Pocock says without the Sutton and Brownlee gnomes the exhibit wouldn't have worked as well. "It would just have been a pretty thing, and I didn't want that. I wanted something that was funny and people would have a bit of a laugh about."

But he says Gardner, a recent art and design school graduate, took care with the "gnomification" so the models were in no way disrespectful.

"He studied hundreds of photos of Gerry and Roger and their mannerisms, how they stood. He knew Gerry always had his Canterbury tie on and often had his hands behind his back.

So what does the minister think of his concrete alter ego? Pocock says he doesn't know but CERA recently contacted him on behalf of Mr Brownlee asking who the artist is.

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