Bilbo and his band to dominate skyline

KERRY MCBRIDE
METRO AND CAPITAL DAY REPORTER
Last updated 07:42 30/10/2012
Hobbit sculpture
CHRIS SKELTON/Fairfax NZ

ADVENTURE WALK: Silhouettes of hobbit Bilbo and his dwarf companions have been lit up on the side of the NZ Post Building.

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It took eight designers, 56 tonnes of concrete and a whole load of lights to create NZ Post's monument to The Hobbit.

NZ Post approached Sir Richard Taylor and Weta Workshop in July to come up with a design for its Waterloo Quay building to celebrate the premiere of the first Hobbit film next month.

A silhouetted depiction of Bilbo Baggins and his 13 dwarf companions was chosen to adorn the fifth floor, which will be lit up each night to stand out against Wellington's skyline.

Eight people from Weta took an entire month to design and create the 14 figures, with the wind posing their biggest challenge.

"It's quite a significant job with respect to the engineering," Taylor said. "Because of the wind loading in that part of the city, they have had to build quite substantially."

The plywood figures have been counterweighted with 56 tonnes of concrete so they can withstand winds of up to 140kmh.

With work on The Hobbit films now wrapping up, such projects were a lot of fun for the Weta team, Taylor said.

"This sort of stuff for us is an absolute joy because we love making large-scale art sculptures and installations."

NZ Post sales and marketing manager Simon Allison said the silhouettes were the perfect fit because they used the building well and reflected NZ Post's Hobbit- themed stamp collection as well as the film's themes.

"It's about the characters going on an adventure, and they are now walking on that adventure on top of the NZ Post building.

"We really want it to be there for the summer and for the tourists coming into Wellington. We want it to be a real feature of the waterfront."

SCULPTURAL SMORGASBORD

Wellington Airport has unveiled a 12m-long sculpture of Gollum catching fish. The polystyrene sculpture took four months to create. The silhouettes of Bilbo and the 13 dwarves on the NZ Post building are weighted by 56 tonnes of concrete to keep them in place in the Wellington wind.

The Embassy Theatre will continue its tradition of installing a sculpture on its building in time for the November 28 world premiere, but is not saying what it will be.

Contact Kerry McBride
Metro and Capital Day reporter
Email: kerry.mcbride@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @kerry_mcbride

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- The Dominion Post

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