Tongue of the dog sculpture revealed to Hamilton city

CHRISTEL YARDLEY/stuff.co.nz

Tongue of the Dog, a three-storey high sculpture, was unveiled on Tuesday afternoon outside Waikato Museum in Hamilton

 

For a few minutes the rain held off and the grey clouds parted for people to see Hamilton's newest central city art work.

The three-storey sculpture, Tongue of the Dog, created by artist Michael Parekowhai, was officially opened on Victoria Street on Tuesday evening.

The waterfall of the sculpture represents the tongue of the dog, described in a Maori legend about the creation of the ...
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/FAIRFAX NZ

The waterfall of the sculpture represents the tongue of the dog, described in a Maori legend about the creation of the Waikato River.

The $700,000 sculpture was gifted to the city by Mesh Sculpture Hamilton, and funded by donations from more than 70 different donors.

Art enthusiasts, sponsors, donors, city councillors, and the public admired the sculpture which is set outside Waikato Museum.

People ignored the rain, taking a good walk around the structure, processing the colourful artwork after setting eyes on it for the first time.

A talking point of the artwork is that it gives the impression of being constructed from giant-sized versions of Cuisenaire rods.

Deputy Chair and Treasurer of Mesh, Stuart Anderson, said there was a sense of relief, but also a sense of pride, to be able to present the artwork to the city.

"It feels great we've now got this incredible iconic sculpture. It's vibrant, it's colourful, and it contrasts really nicely with the older buildings around."

He said the Hamilton now has something that tells a story, a story that needed to be told.

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"I'm just staggered that people don't know the legend of the Waikato River. I didn't, until this came in front of us."

The inspiration came from a Maori legend, retold inside the museum, which speaks about the creation of the Waikato River. It is a  tale of a servant dog who cuts a pathway for the healing waters of Tongariro to reach an ailing Taupiri.

The sculpture's waterfall represents the tongue of this dog in the story.

Anderson said the project had been in the making for two and a half years, from original planning until it was unveiled on Tuesday.

"It's a beautiful story and now everyone is going to know about it."

Colin Hancock, owner of Trek and Travel on Victoria Street ,was invited to view the sculpture.

"I think it's a fantastic idea. Once I understood what it was about, it's fantastic to see the thing in real life. Exactly what I would expect.

"I followed it through the time it was first talked about, to the finished art work."

Stuart Anderson hopes people will embrace the sculpture, and come up with their own interpretation.

"You don't need to understand the art. Whatever they think it is to them, it is what it is and it's great.

"My son thinks it looks like something out of Minecraft, and I think that's great because that's his connection to the sculpture.

"And that's the beauty of public art, you don't need to understand the art, it is whatever it is to you."

 - Stuff

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