In late 2015 the iconic sculpture Ferns by prominent artist Neil Dawson was taken down from Civic Square for good. The work had been suspended in Civic Square since 1998 and had grown to become one of the cities most beloved public art works. As soon as it came down, the Trust, Wellington City Council and artist, Neil Dawson, begun working on a replacement for the iconic work.
Neil took his inspiration for the work from the natural environment, using the silver ponga fern and four additional varieties of ferns (petako, lace fern, wheki and puniu) to create a suspended globe of delicate lacy fern fronds.
The 11 large fronds were cut from aluminium plates and welded into one form over a wooden mould. It was then painted gold on the interior and silver on the exterior.
The structural problem with the original Ferns was the way in which the fern fronds curled around each other, producing a weakness when suspended under tension. While this could be fixed, and was done several times over it’s 17-year life, it was a costly ongoing problem. During a regular maintenance check in late 2015 the Council received professional advice that the work was no longer safe to be suspended and couldn’t be repaired.
Ferns II will look very similar to the original but be cut from stainless steel. It will include all 11 fronds, be painted the same silver and gold, and will be more structurally robust.
For our total of $190,000 we received funding from the ANZ Bank (an original sponsor), the Wellington City Council Public Art Fund, the Wellington Community Trust, the Nikau Foundation, and the Deane Endowment Trust and many more corporate and private donors.
We expect Ferns to be back in its rightful place in late June 2018.