Felled oaks may be used in gallery revamp
Timber from the oak trees felled to make way for the Suter Art Gallery redevelopment could be used for a carving, and possibly flooring, in the project.
Gallery director Julie Catchpole, who is relieved to have a safe, light-filled working environment after the trees' removal two weeks ago, said it was planned to use as much of the wood from the oaks as possible in the gallery redesign.
Ms Catchpole said talks were under way about using some of the timber to create a Po Maori carving in the gallery's planned new atrium, and it was possible some of the "astonishingly fabulous timber" could be used for flooring.
The city council has agreed to allocate $6.6 million for the project after a gallery upgrade plan was launched more than a decade ago.
The decision left the fate of the two large oaks up to the city council, which owns the gallery. It had to weigh the importance of the trees against public safety and that of a multimillion-dollar art collection.
Both trees, which were on land belonging to the Suter, were listed in the Nelson Resource Management Plan as local trees, which meant they could be felled without a resource consent.
They came down two weeks ago, after extensive consultation through the long term plan and amid mixed public reaction.
The Queen's Gardens Preservation Society was opposed to the trees' removal, calling it a "tragic and unnecessary waste".
Society spokeswoman, architect and researcher Ellen Brinkman said she now hoped the gallery redevelopment plans would incorporate sympathetic landscaping.
Ms Brinkman said yesterday that a "friends of the gardens" group set up recently had helped soften the blow of losing the trees.
She said it had been "wonderfully therapeutic" for her to go with the group and "groom and polish" areas of the gardens.
Ms Brinkman said while she had nearly burst into tears the day the trees were felled, it was now time to move on.
"I think in the summer it will be very apparent the trees are missing - it's harder to tell in the winter when trees are in their skeleton state," Ms Brinkman said.
"It's really important now that the council asks the Suter for really sympathetic treatment of the landscape, such as filtered screening - not knee-high suburban plants, but plantings that will be supportive of the Queen's Gardens," Ms Brinkman said.
Ms Catchpole said she had received some good feedback since the trees came down. It was evident from people's reactions walking past the gallery that many had made up their own minds about the effect of their removal.
She said landscaping would be considered.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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