A new Whanganui public sculpture project has been installed in Drews Ave.
Peaceable Kingdom by Whanganui artists Andrea Gardner and Brit Bunkley consists of three sculptures of dogs sitting comfortably on wooden furniture high up on an outside wall of the building.
Although Bunkley and Gardner are partners, they don't often collaborate but they had a shared vision to produce the work which is named after the Bible passage previously interpreted by 19th-century painter Edward Hicks.
The artists say many historic cities have sculptures of animals embedded in their architecture and they came up with a proposal to put some animals in the Whanganui CBD.
"Whether it be in the form of grotesque gargoyles or impressive lions, bulls and horses perched on the facades of churches, palaces and government buildings, most cities have them," Bunkley said.
Bunkley, who can rightly claim to be a pioneer in the art of three-dimensional printing, has been using the technique in his sculptural work since the early 1990s.
The three dogs in the Drews Ave work have been fabricated from three-dimensional scans into a durable PLA plastic which then has been coated with epoxy.
"The indoor wooden furniture has been weatherproofed with polyurethane," Bunkley said.
"Our intention was for the sculptures to be unexpected, quirky, surrealistic and playful."
The furniture, he says, creates a sense of indoors on an exterior wall.
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"The animals might suggest city guardians or merely mischievous pets," says Gardner.
"And the fact that they are sitting on our furniture alludes to our close relationship with them."
The artists had previously installed an outdoor work with animal sculptures in the biennial Sculpture in the Gardens held at Auckland Botanic Gardens.
"That work was also entitled Peaceable Kingdom and featured sculpted animals perched on pieces of furniture."
The Whanganui artists may not share the religious devotion Edward Hicks who was a Quaker minister but they appreciate the allusion to a peaceful, harmonious world where animals that are normally predator and prey sit side by side with each other.
Gardner says the passage which is Isaiah chapter 11:6 can also be understood as a secular interpretation of eschatology, a part of theology concerned with the final events of history.
"We are pleased to have finished the work before things were elevated to lockdown.
"It's nice to think that some people will get to see it while they're out walking and others can see photos of the finished work.
The artists say the Peaceable Kingdom is not intended as a permanent work.
"We expect it to last from three to five years," says Bunkley.
"We have made it as weatherproof as we can and I'll be really happy if it lasts longer."
The artists wish to thank Duncan Matthews, Michael Cheyne, the Youth Services Trust, Ian Johnson at BPL, Ellen Young of the Town Centre Regeneration Project, The Public Art Fund and the Whanganui Creative Communities Scheme for their support with the project.