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  Summer News 2003

The second of the Meridian Energy wind sculptures
Artist: Phil Price

The main spike of Zephyrometer was shipped from Christchurch to Wellington on 5 November, courtesy of Pacifica Shipping. Phil Price with a team of assistants installed the moving parts onto the fixed support pole over the weekend of November 8-9.

On November 10, at dawn the huge, orange 26 meter spike‚ was slowly lifted by two cranes and affixed to the base. It was a long day, involving connecting the electrical wiring for the lights which move with the spike, adjusting the counterweight and much more. Much to everyone’s relief and excitement the work was ready for the 6.30am opening the next day.

In a function organised by Meridian Energy, a powhiri from the Wellington City Council’s Treaty of Waitangi team preceded speeches by Deputy Mayor Alick Shaw, Meridian Energy Chairman, Francis Small, Trust Chairman Neil Plimmer and artist Phil Price. Neil Plimmer summed up the dramatic impact of Zephyrometer, ‘It is bold and ambitious in its concept. It is tall, soaring and elegantly simple in its realisation.  t is difficult and complex in its construction and installation. It is a huge asset for Wellington, and we thank Phil Price for it’.

Phil’s work was the unanimous choice of the Trust and its Arts Advisers from 44 entries in a nationwide competition. The Arts Advisers praised its qualities, in particular how it reflects the swaying of the yacht masts in the Evans Bay Marina behind it; how it moves like the needle on the dial of a nautical instrument, measuring the speed of the sea or wind or vessel.

A well known kinetic sculptor American George Rickey wrote that, ‘When you build an object for movement you are always surprised by the movement itself: however premeditated the design the movement always seems to come from somewhere else.’ Phil’s work has that same magic.
Phil in some ways is following in George Rickey’s tradition. But he is also striking out in directions of his own, making the most of new materials, with his own keen eye for elegance of shape and of movement, and his highly developed sense of engineering possibilities. The Trust has no doubt that Phil’s reputation, already national and spreading fast in Australia, will be projected and recognised world wide.


Artist: Bill Culbert
As announced at our 20th Anniversary reception the Trust is planning an exciting new sculpture for Post Office Square on Jervois Quay. This is a main access way to the waterfront and one of the most prominent sites in Wellington. It is accessible not only to pedestrians but also to 45,000 commuters who pass by each morning and evening.

Bill Culbert is an artist who has developed a strong reputation here and internationally for his work with light sculpture and is New Zealand’s most accomplished artist using this medium. We are exceptionally lucky to be able to commission a work Bill has created especially for this Jervois Quay site.

Bill’s work SkyBlues will redefine this corner of Wellington. It has 15 linked blue neon lights each up to four metres high. The neon tubes will be placed on seven five metre high stainless steel poles. Bill describes SkyBlues as: ‘light energy, the verticals being drawn lines that move, shimmer, and swirl blue in the cityscape.’ 

We are very grateful for the support we have received for this project from Tower Corporation, Creative New Zealand and the Wellington City Council. The Trust is hopeful with the momentum this project has already gained that we may be able to finish our fundraising, and gain the necessary resource consent, to have work begin on SkyBlues in the near future. Trustee project leader - Murray Cole

Wellington is to have a new sculpture walk linking six wind sculptures. The two announcements of additional sculptures and the construction of the sculpture walk were highlights of the Trust’s anniversary reception on November 11. Meridian Energy spokesman Alan Seay expressed satisfaction with progress on its initial sponsorship of three kinetic works in the Meridian Energy Great Wellington Wind Sculpture Project. With the opening of Zephyrometer, two of these three are now installed. Alan said the company would sponsor another three to give a total of six pieces.

In recognition of Meridian Energy’s contribution Acting Mayor Alick Shaw announced the city’s commitment to building and naming a Meridian Energy Sculpture Walk which will link the works on Cobham Drive.  “The walk will upgrade the existing path, provide seating and viewing areas beside each sculpture, with interpretive signs and parking where needed,” he said. “The work will be integrated into the beach upgrading and protection. Our intention is to make the wind sculptures accessible to walkers and cyclists to mull over and enjoy, as well as to the travellers along Cobham Drive. This work, combined with the sculptures themselves, will make a dramatic and dynamic new attraction for Wellington’s southern gateway.”

Work has already started on the walkway, with seating established near Pacific Grass at the eastern end of Cobham Drive. Landscaping around Zephyrometer is due to start shortly.The third sculpture in the series is scheduled for installation in 2004, with the additional three earmarked for the period

Wind Sculptures 2005-2007
It has been agreed that the third and fourth works in this project will be placed on Cobham Drive on the main route from the airport to the city. The location of the fifth and sixth has yet to be determined but will be in the same general area.

“The Trust has been working with the two other parties for over a year on this plan, and is elated at these decisions, seeing them as a spectacular opportunity that will confirm Wellington’s position as a world centre for wind-driven sculpture,” said the Trust’s Chairman Neil Plimmer.
Now it is the Trust’s task to find and commission works of international quality to grace the southern gateway route – not an easy call but based on the reception given to the first two in the Meridian Energy series an achievable goal. Trustee project leader - Lloyd Jones

We felt it was time to celebrate 20 years and 14 works of art gifted to the city. Her Excellency the Governor General Dame Silvia Cartwright and Mr Peter Cartwright kindly offered to host this special occasion at Government House on 11 November. The reception was to thank our many sponsors, both corporate and private for their support, and to note the achievements of the Trust and the 14 sculptors. We wanted to bring to the attention of our supporters an overview of what it is we do, starting from the beginning with the inspired actions of a group of passionate Wellington arts patrons.

The evening commenced with a slide show of the 14 completed works to show the scale and breadth of the projects. This was followed by a series of stories behind each of the sculptures, some of angst, excitement, drama, but overall a story of successful collaborations. We were delighted that six sculptors were able to be present; Tanya Ashken, Neil Dawson, Dennis O’Connor, Anton Parsons, Phil Price and Jeff Thomson. It was their stories that added colour and special interest to the evening.

A highlight was the presentation by Her Excellency Dame Silvia Cartwright of Distinguished Life Memberships, firstly to Dr Ian Prior a founding member, and to Lady Margaret Trotter who joined the Trust soon after. They both spoke of the enjoyment they have received from their contributions.

Dr Ian Prior worked with Henry Lang and others to realise Tanya Ashken’s award winning design for Albatross, completed in 1986 and has been involved continuously since, holding the position of chairman from 1977 until 2000. Lady Margaret Trotter‘s ongoing contrib-ution has included being deputy chairperson since the 1997. She has taken a special interest in bringing Len Lye’s Water Whirler to fruition.

Future projects were announced: our first Tower-sponsored sculpture to be located on Post Office Square, and the long awaited Len Lye to be located on the waterfront. The formal part of the evening concluded with thanks to many supporters over the years and a round of applause to the artists. We then enjoyed a wonderful party with the excellent Government House catering.

In June 2003 we had a good turn out for our AGM at the City Gallery. Our guest speaker Dr Seddon Bennington, Chief Executive of Te Papa, expressed gratitude to the Trust and supporters for “taking on the challenge, for bringing spirit, song and surprise to the interstices of our city.”  He noted the quote from Lauris Edmond, that Wellington is a city where “you have to do and be, not simply watch and describe,” and that this issues a challenge to public sculpture in Wellington. In addition to sharing with us observations on arts organisations in Pittsburgh, USA, Dr Bennington reflected on the sculpture collection of Te Papa and the concept of permanence and its relationship with the breaking of boundaries common to contemporary practice. With public sculpture, rather than decorating the city he advocated “sculpture that lingers in the mind, unsettling and provocative.”

Len Lye (1901 – 1980) was ahead of his time, designing many sculptures to a scale and complexity which were difficult and often impossible to realise at the time. Lye was frequently beset with problems of funding and the limitations imposed by the technology available to him.

It was in Wellington (inspired by the “fast little skuddy clouds”) that Len Lye began seeking ways of connecting movement and artistic expression, of “creating art in a moving form.”Although he spent much of his creative life overseas, he returned to New Plymouth for an exhibition in 1977. The visit led to the establishment of a foundation dedicated to preserving his work. The Len Lye Foundation has kept Lye’s visions alive. Now in partnership with the Wellington Sculpture Trust and with gritty determination, the Foundation has adopted the current technologies, materials and engineering techniques to develop a functioning prototype of Len Lye’s Water Whirler.

The prototype has been refined and tested, and this beautifully realised sculpture will be ready for incorporation as part of the development of the Wellington Waterfront when the site becomes available in 2004. The Trust looks forward with great anticipation to the installation of this kinetic sculpture, a sculpture as exuberant as the sculptor himself.  At the 20th Anniversary reception the Trust was able to show photographs of the prototype working at its construction site earlier this year.Trustee project leader - Margaret Trotter



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