Centennial sculpture heads for new home

By Bernard Orsman

Wind Tree sculpture (pictured in QEII Square) is to get a new home on the site of the Team New Zealand base. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Wind Tree sculpture (pictured in QEII Square) is to get a new home on the site of the Team New Zealand base. Photo / Brett Phibbs

More than seven years after being uprooted from the bottom of Queen St, sculptor Michio Ihara's stainless-steel Wind Tree is being resited.

The tapestry of stainless-steel tubes was Auckland City's 1971 centennial present to itself, but it has been hidden in an Onehunga storeroom since it was moved to make way for the Britomart station makeover.

The Wind Tree will be on the site of the Team New Zealand base, which is being demolished for a gateway plaza at the entrance to the Tank Farm across a new bridge from the Viaduct Harbour.

Sculptor Greer Twiss, who was appointed by Ihara to represent the sculpture's interests after it was removed, said he and the French-born Japanese-American sculptor had been consulted by Auckland City Council about the resiting, and were pleased it was going back on public view.

"It's an important work of art. We don't have many works by international artists around the city," Twiss said.

Resiting the Wind Tree is one of three public art projects budgeted at $2 million for the first phase of work at the huge Tank Farm development due for completion by the time of next year's Rugby World Cup.

The other two are a series of large metal horns in which people can sit and hear the sea, called Sounds of Sea, a collaborative project by Korean artist Aamu Song and Finnish artist Johan Olin; and an installation in and on a cement silo, called Light-House, by British-American artist Anthony McCall.

Good progress is being made to complete six public projects at the Tank Farm in time for the Cup.

The "Jellicoe precinct", as it is known, includes a temporary bridge over the Viaduct Harbour to the gateway plaza.

To the north, the $32 million Viaduct Events Centre is being built and, to the west, Jellicoe St is being upgraded to a tree-lined boulevard.

Jellicoe St is linked to the North Wharf promenade, a place to stroll, enjoy casual al fresco dining and watch fishing boats unload their catch.

Further west will be Silo Park, retaining the 1960s "six-pack" of cement silos plus the single Golden Bay cement silo transformed into Anthony McCall's artwork.

John Dalzell, chief executive of Sea + City, the public body overseeing the Tank Farm works, said the comprehensive planning work was completed and construction had started.

When the Team New Zealand base was demolished this year, it would be like the "curtain being raised" as the public spaces around Jellicoe St and the east-west orientation became visible, he said.

"The public are just going to be blown away with something that was almost sitting on their back doorstep that they didn't realise or appreciate was there."

Mr Dalzell said Silo Park would be different from many city parks with wharf and water space as event areas. A wetland area with coastal planting will clean the stormwater from the surrounding area.

As well as nearly $100 million of public works, a $160 million volcanic-topped headquarters on the corner of Jellicoe and Halsey Sts is planned for the ASB Bank.

Housing 1100 employees, it will be the first large commercial development at the Tank Farm.

The Auckland Theatre Group is also in the early stages of planning a 600-seat theatre alongside the ASB headquarters. The $26.8 million theatre would add a night-time attraction to the precinct.

Sea + City is holding tours up the 35m-high six-pack cement silos on Saturday - and Sunday if Saturday is oversubscribed. To register, go to: www.seacity.co.nz/silotour

- NZ Herald

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