Classroom design turned to steel

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 13:00 25/02/2014
David Havili
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ
WINNING SMILE: Nayland College student Connagh Boeyen and Port Nelson workshop supervisor Craig Terris with the sculpture in the port’s Memorial Garden.

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Seventeen-year-old Connagh Boeyen got to see his winning design made real yesterday when a sculpture he dreamed up for Port Nelson was unveiled.

Now on a gap year, he came up with the one-tonne sculpture while studying year 12 graphics under teacher Sam Maitland at Nayland College in 2012. Port Nelson workshop supervisor Craig Terris came to the college for help after his workers unearthed a 150-year-old fire alarm bell in a little-used shed while cleaning.

He wanted to hang the bell in the port's Memorial Garden, which honours a worker, Peter Robertson, who died in an accident at the port in 2001, but needed a stand to be designed for the bell. Mr Maitland's class of 13 each submitted a proposal.

While Connagh's design was assessed as the most expensive to make, Mr Terris said it stood out because it was relevant, had immediate visual appeal and suited the environment.

The design has the bell hanging from the middle of an oval eye-shaped structure, which is ribbed like a fish skeleton.

Port Nelson fitter Hayden McCue put the sculpture together on site, although Mr Terris reported that it had not been easy to make.

He said the stylised fish-bone "ribs" in the middle were each created by welding together two slabs of solid steel, but the curved outside posed more of a challenge as it had to be built and shaped from hollow sections.

"And then there was a few bits of it that had to be made a couple of times."

The rust effect Connagh had specified for the sculpture's skin also involved some lateral thinking. "We tried wetting it every day for two weeks and it got a bit rusty but not enough," said Mr Terris.

"I was going to dip it in the sea."

The right finish was finally achieved by washing it down with an industrial acid.

Mr Maitland said he realised the sculpture would be a "fairly stiff"' engineering project when he saw Connagh's plans, but he praised it as a mature piece of design.

He said Port Nelson had done well to put in the time to make sure the sculpture panned out as planned.

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