Heavy industry company Culham Engineering has brought out some of their big tools to work on the 15-tonne steel structure for Whangārei's new Camera Obscura.
After a successful concrete pour lay the foundations for Whangārei's latest art installation along the Hātea Loop in early March, Culham Engineering has made significant progress in rolling and welding the steel into shape that will construct the Camera Obscura.
"We are excited that the designers have chosen a steel build," Dave Cunningham, Culham Engineering operations manager said.
He explained that the four-piece structure was made out of weathering steel which will assume a patina look after a couple of weeks exposed to the outside, making painting obsolete.
Cunningham said the build was interesting due to its cone shape with the top end of the steel sheets bending outwards.
"We are proud to work with good tradespeople. The structure is an in-house design; all the cutting, welding and fabrication are done here."
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, Minister for Regional Economic Development Shane Jones, Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai, Whangārei District Council chief executive Rob Forlong and other delegates from local organisation attended an on-site tour at Culham Engineering last week to view the progress.
Rob Kirwan, Culham Engineering managing director and co-owner, told his visitors that among skilled and trained staff, they had apprentices working on the art installation.
Their apprentice programme is an integral part of the company's operation and Kirwan welcomed the recent Government support for apprenticeships.
The ministers and delegates were shown around the construction yard and had also a chance to admire the nearly finished Camera Obscura structure.
The project was initiated in 2011 by photographer Diane Stoppard and architect Felicity Christian. Sculptor Trish Clarke joined the team in 2015, and the trio have since been buckling down on fundraising efforts.
The art installation is based on an optical phenomenon called camera obscura or pinhole image which is occurring in nature – in our eyes, for instance – or human-made devices, such as cameras.
When the light of the image of an external scene travels through a pinhole into a dark space – a room or box – the external scene will be reproduced upside down.
The Whangārei Camera Obscura will depict Te Matau ā Pohe, the lower Hātea river bridge.
While the foundation measures an area of eight by eight metres, the structure expands to 12 metres at its widest spot.
Project leader Diane Stoppard said they measured out the space to get an idea of the "mind-blowing" dimensions; however, seeing the steel parts again put the structure into perspective.
"It was always going to be big because it's sitting next to this massive, dramatic bridge," she said.
Once the steel structure is completed, Culham Engineering will have to work out how to safely transport it from their worksite on Port Rd to its final destination.
Cunningham said there were two options; one including a heavy load truck and the second would see the installation being shipped up the Hātea.
Once the structure is set up, it will get its internal fit-out and can open to the public. Stoppard hopes this would happen by October.
The art installation costs a total of $991,000 paid for by donations and the Provincial Growth Fund.