The late writer Ngaio Marsh once described Havelock North as a place where "the esoteric found a fertile soil".

As a novelist and dramatist one could assume she'd not have any objection to the semi-nude sculpture The Garden 2002 poised for a sizeable plinth in the village's CBD.

Quibbling over art, especially public art, delineates factions of society that are otherwise wallflowers. Such is art's clout it elicits both passion and inhibition.

Art began when humanity eventually found time (over and above the tasks necessary for existence) to devote to symbolism and creativity. In other words, our species' survival doesn't hinge on it.


Hence the act of creating will always be privileged, often superfluous and to some extent gratuitous.

Last week a Havelock North citizen came in to see me convinced Paul Dibble's work was gratuitous - yet adamant he didn't want to be named in any article.

Then an email came in from another person opposed with the same sentiment and request for anonymity.

Strange that those who support the sculpture are happy to be named - while the prudish prefer the shadows.

Thing is, Pania is naked from the waist up, local Maori carvings sport private parts and the Spirit of Napier's svelte model is as naked as a frog.

Either way, Dibble must be stoked. Any artist will tell you the worst reaction to your work is no reaction to your work; his piece is already a roaring success.

Once in place here's hoping it garners more support than umbrage. It'd be a shame to think the local esoteric are a spent force.