Monday, October 13, 2008

The Power (or Otherwise) of Public Art

"Flour Power" Regan Gentry. Christchurch. Oct 2008. Ajr
After several visits, day and night and much thinking, I have decided I’m a little disappointed in our latest public sculpture – “Flour Power” by Wellington artist, Regan Gentry. The 13-metre high work references Canterbury wheat fields and obviously plays with Christchurch’s reputation as the flower/garden city. Gentry himself says: “To the imaginative, ‘Flour Power’ will give the appearance that a giant has walked through the city gathering lamp-posts like flowers, collecting them into a bunch, wrapping a tyre around them and placing the whole lot as a centrepiece in Stewart Plaza.” I’ve tried to like it, truly I have but I can’t help thinking there’s something cheap-looking about it and that the concept is a little trite. The aluminium – I presume it’s aluminium - and the glaring white cluster of bulbs at the top jar my visual nerves. Compared to the sleek steel construction of Graham Bennett’s “Reasons For Voyaging” outside the Christchurch Art Gallery, it comes a poor second in my view. Couldn’t there have been a more imaginative solution to the lighting? A mixture of softer, even changing tones perhaps? Maybe I’m making a hasty judgement. Maybe it will improve with age? But for $250,000 surely the Public Art Advisory Group could have given us something more thought-provoking and attractive.

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