NZ's memorial slammed as worse than Australia's 'urinal' (+photos)

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New Zealand's war memorial in London has been criticised as "bristling" and "unlovely" and more offensive than its Australian equivalent in a campaign against tasteless, poorly-executed public artworks in the city.

Tim Knox, director of Sir John Soane's Museum in London, told The Times newspaper that many modern sculptures and other artworks in the city were "horrors" and "Frankenstein monster memorials".

"In the Victorian era and in the early 20th century there was great confidence and world-class artists were used," he said. "'But today that confidence has gone and the sculptors are not the world's best. This free-for-all needs to be regulated and I'm worried about the sheer proliferation of these Frankenstein monsters." His concerns were echoed by art historians, and museum and gallery experts.

Richard Shone, editor of The Burlington Magazine and an art historian, also complained of the infestation of public places by statues and memorials.

He said the Australian war memorial (click here for photos), despite resembling a urinal, was much less offensive than its nearby New Zealand equivalent - which was a "bristlingly unlovely installation in one of the most public sites in London".

"The New Zealand one seems to me very bad, the black spikes sticking up seems very aggressive ... the war is over!"

The New Zealand War Memorial - known as The Southern Stand - consists of 16 cross-shaped slabs of bronze up to 4.5m high and weighing up to 700kg. It carries New Zealand motifs: a fern leaf, a rugby ball, a figure, a farmer and Anzac poppies, with some of the stands laid out to resemble the Southern Cross constellation. It was designed by John Hardwick-Smith and Paul Dibble and was dedicated by Queen Elizabeth II on November 11, 2006.

The memorial is said to commemorate "enduring bonds" between New Zealand and Britain, and their shared sacrifice during times of war.

The Australian memorial, meanwhile, was designed by Sydney-based architectural firm Tonkin Zulaikha Greer in association with artist Janet Laurence and was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II on November 11, 2003.

It is in the form of a long curving wall of Australian granite, with falls of water, and is set with the names of the 24,000 home towns of Australian men and women who served during the two world wars.

The names of 47 battle grounds are superimposed over the town names, which are intended to reflect the impact of the casualties on their families and communities.

"It's not so bad, but again, I wonder if it's the right place for it, where people are rushing past and don't have time to read it," Shone said.

"It also obscures certain views in that area, the New Zealand one even more so."

Westminster City Council told The Times it was concerned about the proliferation of statues and memorials on its streets - now more than 300.

It is stipulating that someone can only be commemorated in bronze or stone if they have made a serious contribution to society.

- NZPA / AAP

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