Twin sculpture to Stokes Valley's mating worms launched

21:43, Dec 12 2011
Ever upwards: Guy Ngan stands by his new sculpture, Elevating Worms, at the Scott Court shopping centre. With him are his wife Jean, daughter Liz, grandchildren Shaun and Rachel Clark, and the city's urban design manager Paki Maaka, who has been discussing the sculpture concept with him over the past few years.

Stokes Valley has had mating worms at its entrance for more than 30 years; now it has Elevating Worms in front of its shopping centre.

Born of the fertile imagination of sculptor Guy Ngan, and this time formed in gleaming stainless steel, Elevating Worms was officially welcomed by Mayor Ray Wallace and members of the E Tu Awakairangi Public Art Trust at a ceremony on Sunday afternoon.

Trust chairman Greg Thomas was delighted that thanks to the generosity of Mr Ngan, who has been a Stokes Valley resident since the 1950s, E Tu Awakairangi has been able to complete its third successful project.

The first two were Aiko Groot's CUBE4 outside Pelorus Trust Sports House in Seaview and Leon van den Eijkel's Smiling Windmills at Avalon Park.

Often the most expensive part of a public sculpture is covering the artist's concept and development costs but Mr Thomas says Mr Ngan has this time made a gift of his talent and time to the city. The trust only had to come up with the cost of getting the work fabricated by a Porirua firm according to Mr Ngan's design.

Mr Ngan, 85, was in fine form in Sunday's sunshine, greeting fellow artists and city dignitaries and telling some of his fund of stories from more than 65 years of making carvings and sculptures. His works, large and small, enliven major buildings and civic squares all over New Zealand.


The twisting shapes at the entrance to Stokes Valley were a Jaycees commission made in 1976.

They're an icon in the city now, but they never had a name.

"I thought if I gave it a name, that's all that people would remember.

"I wanted them to remember the shape," Mr Ngan told Hutt News on Sunday.

Years later, his doctor's family came to Guy and Jean Ngan's house for dinner.

The doctor's young daughter - she's now in her 40s - said "Uncle Guy, I saw your worms mating".

Mr Ngan says he loved the description, and it's stuck with him ever since.

So when Hutt City Council expressed interest in another sculpture for Scott Court, "I thought to myself, it's another worm".

"I like to do things elevating upwards. Many of my works are reaching for the sky; the one on the Wellington Town Hall is pointing upwards.

"They elevate upwards because there's more room up there!"

Before dragging a silk red ribbon through the intriguing twists of the worms to launch the new sculpture, Mayor Ray Wallace thanked Mr Ngan and called the work a "bold and dynamic statement" that will be a treasured asset for the city.

Mr Ngan and others paid tribute to the city's urban design manager Paki Maaka who initiated discussions with Mr Ngan four or five years ago.

Scott Court was to get a facelift and Mr Maaka's vision was to have a sculpture as its focal point.

The diamond pattern of paving stones was designed to be in sympathy with the Elevating Worms feature which, according to Mr Ngan's explicit instructions, sprouts from a large circular planter box where red roses are growing.

Mr Thomas says early in the new year, E Tu Awakairangi trust expects to announce details of its fourth project, a water-based sculpture to be erected in front of the Dowse.

He's not letting many details out of the bag yet, but it's already known that the work will include taps that are linked to the aquifer under the Hutt Valley.

People will be able to fill containers of unchlorinated, unfluoridated artesian water, just as they can at Louise Purvis' tower sculpture in Buick St, Petone.

Mr Thomas said the sculpture in Dowse Square will be one that "kids will love . . . and it will make people smile".

Hutt News