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Gandalf swoops into Wellington Airport's terminal

2 Dec 2013

Two Great Eagles swooped into Wellington Airport’s main terminal building on Monday morning, giving Gandalf a glimpse of the runway.

The sculptures show Gandalf atop one of two Great Eagles, bringing news to the Middle of Middle-earth.

Weighing in at one tonne each with a wingspan of 15 metres, they have been developed by Weta Workshop and Wellington Airport to accompany Gollum in welcoming visitors to the Wellington.

The creation has been designed and facilitated by Weta Workshop’s creative lead Richard Taylor and Workshop Supervisor Rob Gillies to create yet another unforgettable experience into Wellington Airport.

Richard Taylor, who was overseeing the project said, “we were thrilled to return and create another installation for Wellington Airport. What could be more suitable for an airport in Middle-earth than Gandalf the Grey atop a Great Eagle swooping into the terminal, such an evocative image from The Hobbit and a fantastic and challenging project for our artists to design and build."

"We are delighted to work with Weta to produce another magnificent sculpture welcoming visitors into Wellington."

“We are delighted to work with Weta to produce another magnificent sculpture welcoming visitors into Wellington. We’re proud to show our support for the movies – they have done a lot for New Zealand tourism. With Gollum being viewed around the globe and tourists still talking photos of him, we expect Gandalf and the Eagles will make quite a stir,” said Steve Sanderson, Wellington Airport’s Chief Executive.

Art directed by Richard Taylor and Rob Gillies, the sculptures were 3D modelled into the airport display space by Jamin Vollebregt. It was then realised by a team of Weta Workshop 3D modellers, sculptors, model makers, painters, engineers and other specialists using a variety of large-sculpture technologies developed in-house at Weta Workshop.

"With Gollum being viewed around the globe and tourists still talking photos of him, we expect Gandalf and the Eagles will make quite a stir."

“We head into an exciting week leading up to the release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaugincluding the Charity Gala Premiere on December 9 at the Embassy Theatre with all proceeds going to the Island Bay Marine Education Centre,” said Mr Sanderson.

Key facts about the installation:

  • Weta molded and cast 1,000 feathers for the two eagles.
  • The longest of the feathers measure 2.4 metres.
  • The wingspan of each bird is 15 metres.
  • The whole installation weighs in at just under 2 tonnes.
  • Each eagle is suspended from the roof in the Main Terminal Building by 8 cables.
Gandalf swoops into Wellington airport
Gandalf atop a Great Eagle, Wellington Airport.
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