More than $200,000 needed to get a new Ferns sculpture flying above Civic Square in Wellington
There's been an orb-shaped hole in the skyline above Civic Square, but there's a plan to fill it.
The aluminium Ferns sculpture was permanently removed about 16 months ago after Wellington City Council learned it was no longer safe to keep it suspended due to metal fatigue from wind damage.
After weighing up the mounting cost of keeping Ferns above ground – where it had been since 1998 – the Wellington Sculpture Trust announced on Monday it needed to raise a total of $210,000 for sculptor Neil Dawson to create an upgraded stainless steel model.
Dawson said the original work, which has become a landmark in the city captured in countless tourism photos, would likely be recycled rather than re-homed to keep the display unique.
"Since it was installed, it's had a special place in Wellington ... it just seems to lift people's spirits.
"It's a positive thing... adventurous. Throwing something up in the air in a city with some of the strongest wind in the world."
The Christchurch-based artist said the new orb would be the same size, position, and colours, and would use existing lighting.
However, the thin cables used to delicately suspend it would increase from 3mm thick to 4mm.
Little movements in the cables contributed to metal fatigue over time so thicker ones as part of an upgraded suspension system should keep fatigue to a minimum in future – and stop it wobbling ads much.
"I've been fighting to keep them thin because the magic is the way it floats in the sky. It will retain its delicacy."
The lay-out of the punga ferns is also being re-jigged to ease strain.
Prometal Industries in Christchurch will carry out construction with the final touches done in Wellington.
They will base the work off a 1:5 scale model made by Dawson.
Extensive planning had taken place over the past year with the final product expected to be up by March.
Trust chairwoman Sue Elliot said they had considered fixing the original again, but it was getting harder and harder.
"We're really trying to keep the character of the previous work."
The Trust has already raised about $55,000 from sponsors.
Wellington City Council is a major funder. It will support the installation costs and will be responsible for ongoing maintenance.
After its latest removal last year, New Zealand International Arts Festival's former executive chairman Sir David Gascoigne described the sculpture as a city landmark that arrived with the dawn almost 20 years ago.
"The night before, the globe was transported to the square under cover of darkness. It was elevated and secured in place. Work finished shortly before those taking part in the festival's opening ceremony started to arrive – in darkness.
"As dawn broke and the ceremony got under way, the crowd became aware of the sculpture hanging high overhead, glistening in the dawn's new light. There were gasps of amazement and a spontaneous ovation."
See the the Trust's Boosted fundraising page here: https://www.boosted.org.nz/projects/ferns