Thursday, December 10, 2009

Up With the Birds

I was out photographing yesterday and just happened to arrive at City Mall at precisely the right moment as Christchurch sculptor, Neil Dawson and a team of orange-jacketed, hard-hatted workers were raising Neil's latest public sculpture, Sky Lens above the mall.
Cranes and sculpture coming together in one happy event and intricate patterns etched against the grey, broody sky - I couldn't have been happier.
That's Neil (above) taking time out for a quick chat.
The $140,000 laser-cut, aluminium work measures six metres across and weighs in at 160kg. Unfortunately for Neil and his installation team, the notorious Canterbury nor'west wind was gusting through the mall but they took the conditions in their stride and everything appeared to go to plan.
The sculpture features 'a series of interlocking paper darts' and has evolved out of a series of small domed wall works that Dawson exhibited around five years ago. "It usually takes about five years for the interior works to make it outside," he says, pausing to shout instructions to the crane driver. Despite an outwardly calm facade and regular chats with passersby, Neil says the installation of his giant works is by far the most stressful part of the process. This in fact, was the second attempt to get the work installed above the revamped City Mall.
I sat and watched proceedings for quite some time and was greatly amused by the conversations going on around me. A surprising number of people seemed to think it was a giant Christmas decoration being put in place for the festive season. When I mentioned that to Neil he just sighed. "Oh we've had it all," he laughed. "The guy from a nearby Chinese takeaway place came out and said he was going to call it The Leaky Wok; and someone else told me it looked like a giant IUD." For my part, I think it's great and I look forward to seeing it at night with the coloured spotlights illuminating the intricate matrix of shapes. I think it's a perfect companion for Neil's Chalice, just a street away in Cathedral Square. If you click on Neil's name in the label line below, you'll see other Dawson sculptures around New Zealand that I've written about previously.

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