Wal and Dog coming home to Gisborne in form of life-sized bronze sculpture
Footrot Flats characters Wal and Dog are about to arrive home in Gisborne. Well, a life-sized bronze sculpture of the characters is.
An idea that was six years in the making will come to fruition in the coming weeks with the erection of the sculpture, which has been created by Wellington's Weta Workshop.
Cartoonist Murray Ball created the famous characters in 1975 in Gisborne, where he and wife Pam have lived for more than 40 years.
The comic strip, which ran in newspapers around the world until 1994, was based on the life of Wal Footrot's sheepdog Dog on their farm Footrot Flats, and the other humans and animals that came into their lives.
The idea to erect a sculpture was hatched in 2009 following a discussion between the Balls and Mayor Meng Foon.
Pam Ball said she was thrilled with the sculpture "and I'm just delighted for Murray that he will have this recognition".
"I'm sure a lot of people will have their photo taken with it, and will pause to touch it and think about the characters. I'm not sure people will make special trips to Gisborne to see it, but those that do come will enjoy it," Ball said.
"It's really quite remarkable what Weta has created from just a simple two-dimensional drawing," she said.
The sculpture, which was commissioned by the city council's arts in public places committee, features Dog gazing up at his owner Wal with adoring eyes and lolling tongue. Wal, adorned in his quintessential floppy hat, stands with his hands jammed into the pockets of his classic Kiwi stubbies.
The 350kg sculpture was seven months in the making and Weta Workshop CEO and co-founder Richard Taylor said it was "an absolute privilege for us to have the opportunity to immortalise such a well-loved pair of Kiwi icons".
"May they find an enduring home in sunny Gisborne," Taylor said.
The sculpture's permanent home would be in front of the H.B. Williams Memorial Library, but they may not reach that location until next year, due to an extensive redevelopment.
But Foon said the council was eager to erect the sculpture as soon as possible and it would likely be erected at a temporary location in front of the Lawson Field Theatre in a few weeks time.
"We're thrilled to be getting the sculpture, which we believe will prove a great attraction to the city," Foon said.
A DOG'S LIFE
* The Footrot Flats cartoon ran from 1975-1994 in newspapers around the world.
* There were more than 40 books of Footrot Flats cartoons published.
* The cartoon was the subject of a stage musical and the animated film Footrot Flats: The Dog's Tale.
* The cartoon is based on the life of Wal Footrot's border collie named Dog, on their farm, Footrot Flats. Other characters include Socrates "Cooch" Windgrass, Darlene "Cheeky" Hobson, and Dolores Monrovia Godwit "Aunt Dolly" Footrot.
* Murray Ball became an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2002.
* His other cartoons include Stanley the Paleolithic Hero (the longest- running cartoon in Punch magazine), Bruce the Barbarian, and All the King's Comrades.