Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Bright idea upsets officials

Elliot O'Donnell, also known as Askew One, has painted eight tanks featuring CK Stead's Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell
Elliot O'Donnell, also known as Askew One, has painted eight tanks featuring CK Stead's Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell

Officialdom is taking offence at a renegade public artwork of graffiti-covered tanks at Wynyard Quarter.

Artist Elliot O'Donnell, whose graffiti name is Askew One, has painted eight tanks featuring words from writer CK Stead's poem Auckland opposite North Wharf and the resited Wind Tree sculpture.

The project is the brainchild of art stalwart Hamish Keith, who has plans to commission artists to paint four more groups of tanks at Wynyard Quarter.

But the brightly-coloured tanks have got offside with Waterfront Auckland and Auckland Council's advisory panel for public art.

Panel chairwoman Trish Clark said it recommended moving the Askew One artwork further north on Wynyard Quarter because it was out of context with Michio Ihara's Wind Tree stainless steel pipe sculpture, which it had gone to great pains to find a new site for.

Waterfront Auckland, the council-owned body in charge of developing Wynyard Quarter, is understood to be miffed at Mr Keith's plans to place artworks on privately-leased sites through Wynyard Quarter for up to eight years.

It is concerned about Aucklanders growing fond of the painted tanks and objecting to their removal for land development.

Chief executive John Dalzell declined to answer questions, but in a statement the council body said it had been approached by Mr Keith with a proposal with funding and artists confirmed and an agreement from the owners of the tanks.

"We looked at it and supported it on the proviso that the public nature of the waterfront was acknowledged and once the first phase had been done we'd look at the public response before supporting any further work," the statement said.

Mr Keith said the project had the support of Waterfront Auckland chairman Bob Harvey and had jumped through all the hoops.

The first work had been sponsored by Westpac and once further sponsorship was secured, Christchurch-based artist Darren George would undertake a work on several large tanks towards the headland. Other artists lined up were Judy Millar, Sara Hughes and John Pule.

Elliot O'Donnell, whose run-in with officialdom included one of his large works on a private building near Karangahape Rd being painted over by the council, believed the site was the perfect place for his latest artwork, which drew on recollections in the area of the ocean, sands and rusting metal of old ships.

Heart of the City has also been on board and provided assistance. Chief executive Alex Swney said it fitted its annual art week like a glove.

- NZ Herald

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