Masterton council told rain will clean art

By Hayley Gastmeier hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz -
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Spires, a 14.5-metre tall aluminium sculpture by Neil Dawson in Christchurch. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Spires, a 14.5-metre tall aluminium sculpture by Neil Dawson in Christchurch. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Controversy over how the sculpture proposed to hang above Masterton's northern roundabout would be kept clean has been partly addressed by Wellington City Council, which owns a sculpture by the same artist, Neil Dawson.

WCC parks, sport and recreation project officer Victoria Bennett said the Wellington sculpture, Ferns, did not need cleaning because "rain washing is enough".

Neil Dawson's sculpture, Ferns, which is suspended above Civic Square in Wellington. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Neil Dawson's sculpture, Ferns, which is suspended above Civic Square in Wellington. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

This follows a Masterton District Council meeting where councillor Simon O'Donoghue questioned how the sculpture would be maintained, if the council agrees to take over ownership.

The $286,000 Ascension sculpture, a project driven by the Aratoi Foundation, is 10m high and will be suspended 5m above the ground.

The amount of $200,000 has already been raised for the aluminium work, with a $150,000 contribution from Trust House and a further $50,000 from Lands Trust Masterton.

Aratoi Foundation chairman Bob Francis said the rest of the finance would be made up with "other grants in line" and a fundraiser later this year.

"It's pretty exciting. It's going to be wonderful," said Mr Francis of the sculpture.

He said Spires, a 14.5m-tall aluminium sculpture by Dawson in Christchurch's Latimer Square, had been installed for more than two years with no maintenance or cleaning required.

Dawson's sculpture Ferns, which had been suspended above Civic Square in Wellington since 1998, was taken down last year. According to WCC, it had been taken down "due to fatigue in the aluminium, caused by the stresses of movement over time".

Ms Bennett said the sculpture had not been viable to repair.

"The plan is to build a new one that retains the delicate look but is engineered to be as durable as possible.

"Neil Dawson has been working on this with engineers, we are expecting to have his proposal by the end of March.

"Then we will know when it could go back up."

She said the rigging of the sculpture had been inspected annually.

The old Ferns is with the Wellington Sculpture Trust.

Mr Francis did not believe the fate of Ferns would be that of Ascension, saying the sculptures were "totally different".

He had been told Ascension would have a "40 to 50 year" lifespan.

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