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Public sculpture is a key thread in the cultural capital’s fabric, with dozens of public artworks to be discovered in the city’s gardens, parks and streets.
The Wellington Sculpture Trust has been commissioning public sculpture to enhance the city’s urban environment and support the creative arts since 1982, and is to thank for many of the artworks.
One of the most popular and most photographed of the city’s public works, Ferns was presented to the city in 1998 as a joint commission by the Wellington Sculpture Trust, the New Zealand Festival and the City Gallery. Dawson says he aimed for a “delicate intricacy” to float over the top of the Ian Athfield Nikau Palms that mark the Civic Square location.
This popular series of large, concrete text sculptures was designed by award-winning Wellington typographer and graphic designer Catherine Griffiths. Sited at various points along the waterfront, each sculpture contains a quote celebrating the city by a well-known New Zealand writer with strong Wellington connections.
Designed by architects and town planning consultants Burren and Keen, the Bucket Fountain is a popular meeting place on the Cuba Street pedestrian mall. Constructed as part of the 1969 development, it is one of Wellington’s quirkiest and most well known landmarks. The fountain consists of a series of ‘buckets’ that fill with water until they tip, spilling their load into the buckets and pool below. Their contents often spread further afield onto the pavement and the odd unfortunate pedestrian.
Presented to the city in 2006, Water Whirler sits on a purpose-built pier off the popular waterfront promenade running alongside Frank Kitts Park. Complex mechanisms were adopted and technological challenges overcome to product a performing artwork that preserves artist Len Lye’s intention for the sculpture, which he envisaged as; “a fantastic choreography, jet-streams fling their spray, in three dimensions”. Water Whirler 'plays' in 12 minute cycles, on the hour at 10am, 11am, 12 noon, 1pm and 3pm; and again at 6pm, 8pm, 9pm and 10pm. It operates in winds of up to 20 knots.
This series of five large sculptures along Cobham Drive in Evans Bay links art with renewable energy and turns Wellington’s famed ‘roaring forties’ geography to creative use.
Situated in the middle of the roundabout heading to Wellington Airport, Pacific Grass by Kon Dimopoulos features clusters of over 1500 reeds that chatter as if having a dialogue.
Tower of Light by Andrew Drummond lights up a series of rings according to wind speed.
Phil Dadson’s Akau Tangiuses uses both light and sound to bring his ‘series of sentinels watching over the bay’ to life.
Wellington Urban Forest, by Leon van den Eijkel in collaboration with Allan Brown completes the series. Find out more about the works by watching the Meridian Wind Walk video.