Giant troll sighted in Worser Bay

New large sculpture settles in

MATT PATERSON
Last updated 15:01 13/09/2012
Troll sculpture
MATT PATERSON
Watchful eye: Kim Beaton's troll sculpture keeps a watchful eye over Worser Bay.

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The Wellingtonian

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There is a striking new face gazing out over the chilly waters of Worser Bay, one that's attracting the attention of passers-by with his deceptively wooden- looking demeanour.

A tree troll has been created by sculptor Kim Beaton, who said she had finally found the perfect medium after 20 years of searching.

Standing at about one metre, the troll is made from several coats of "bendable concrete", otherwise known as engineered cementitious composite.

Beaton moulded it around plywood to make the sculpture. The flexible building material was developed by the University of Michigan and has been used to improve earthquake resistance in structures.

Beaton said it was ideal to work with, because it did not have the limitations of conventional materials.

"It's non-toxic. It doesn't make a mess and it's not as costly to scale up compared to materials like bronze, yet it's strong enough that it will last for centuries if it's well-looked after."

She said the composite had a similar consistency to room-temperature clay.

"I'm as much an inventor and scientist as I am an artist, so this product is really exciting for me."

The strength of the material meant people could enjoy the sculpture without damaging it, Beaton said.

"It's public art as it should be, people can touch it, kids can play on it."

The troll has been given a coat of buttermilk, and blended moss and lichen, in the hope of attracting further growth.

"It's been sitting here for two weeks, and it has aged rather well already. The colours have shifted quite harmoniously, but I'm hoping for a storm so I can see what effect that has."

The troll is inspired by a piece she sculpted six years ago with the help of 25 volunteers in her living room. That piece was shown around the Seattle area before being bought by the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas.

That sculpture was moulded from papier-mache, so Beaton promised her mother she would recreate it in a more permanent form.

Beaton moved from Montana to New Zealand three years ago to work on The Hobbit with Weta Workshops.

Having finished her work on The Hobbit, Beaton said she wanted to concentrate on making large permanent outdoor sculptures.

And she said she wanted to get as many people as possible involved in the collaborative process.

"When I'm working on a product I'll ring round all my friends and get them to come in and help when they can. People have this impression of sculpting as solitary work, but that's no fun for me, it's boring."

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Readers wanting to work with Beaton on her next project can email kimsculptor@gmail.com.

- The Wellingtonian

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