It is not your normal garden gnome. In fact, it's a 9¬metre-tall gnome welcoming motorists on Melbourne's Peninsula Link freeway created by the same Kiwi sculptor behind the Auckland art work that many thought looked like a penis.
The gnome, made of polished stainless steel in Gregor Kregar's studio and factory in West Auckland was unveiled yesterday as part of the Southern Way McClelland Commission ¬ one of 14 public art works worth $4 million to be commissioned for the road over 25 years.
The shining beacon, Reflective Lullaby, was shipped from Auckland and trucked to its new home before being lifted into position by a crane.
Speaking from Melbourne today, Kregar told the Herald he had done a number of works based on the gnome, but the Melbourne work was by far the largest.
"I'm really interested in the idea that I can take something like a gnome which is almost like a symbol for bad taste and kitsch and try to make it into an interesting monument. The larger you go with it the better it works," he said.
Working on such a big scale in stainless steel, Gregar said, was like making a monument to mystical monumental guardian of everyday life.
After four years overlooking the motorway, the sculpture will be moved to a permanent home at the nearby Sculpture Park.
The artist hit the headlines earlier this year when a $200,000 public sculpture in New Lynn, Transit Cloud, caused a stir with locals who said it resembled a penis.
The aerial components - four aluminium mesh cloud forms - hangs more than 8m over a lane linking New Lynn's new railway station with the town's library and shopping mall.
The clouds allude to the sky, but two of the forms were viewed very differently by locals when it was unveiled in February.
At the time, Kregar said: "Art is out there to stir reaction."
Gregar said since the initial reaction to the New Lynn sculpture, people had been far more positive towards it.
The lane, he said, had been an extremely rough area with teenagers sniffing glue etc. The sculpture had changed behaviour in the lane and made it safer for neighbours.
"In a way it has a really positive influence in that space."