Councillor wants trust to choose artworks

BLANTON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 01/09/2014
Murray Chong
CAMERON BURNELL/Fairfax NZ
KEEP IT LOCAL: Murray Chong is calling on the Art in Public Places Trust to spend its money on a Taranaki artist.

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Ski-fence builder and councillor Murray Chong is calling on the Art in Public Places Trust to spend its money on a Taranaki artist this time around.

The trust is calling for expressions of interest from artists to commission a sculpture to be displayed in New Plymouth.

About $80,000 in funding is available for the selected artist and Chong said he wanted the money to stay in the region.

"The last two major works were made by out-of-towners. This time round it should be a local. We've got great artists we should be supporting," Chong said.

Sculptors like Renate Verbrugge and Steve Molloy were capable of producing work of a quality equivalent to the pieces procured by the trust in the past, he said.

"There really should be local artists represented. It doesn't have to be every time, but one in every three. It would be good for them to get a foot in the door."

Trust chairman Terry Parkes said one of its strategies was to commission a work by a Taranaki artist, or one connected with the region, every three years.

He also said Taranaki artists had just as much chance as anyone, but final selection, which is made by a panel of independent judges, was based on quality.

"I like his loyalty to New Plymouth but the artist still has to be credible," Parkes said.

Since its formation in 2009 the trust has commissioned or bought several works including John Reynolds' Big Wave Territory, Fridtjof Hansen's sculpture of Frederic Alonzo Carrington and Michael Parekowhai's Atarangi, which stands outside the Library.

It's not the first time Chong has spoken out against the trust's choice of artists. In 2012 he built a fence out of snow-skis in protest of Reynolds' Big Wave Territory.

At the time he said his fence was as much art as the big road sign installed on the Coastal Walkway.

People's view on art varied, Parkes said.

"I think his ski-fence is one of the shabbiest things I've seen, but good on him for doing it."

Parkes said other cities around the country were also calling for artist submissions and the money offered by the trust should attract high quality work.

"Wellington, for example, is offering $50,000 and we're offering $80,000."

Artist submissions close on September 26. Shortlisted artists will then submit a model of their proposal, with the winning sculptor being announced in October.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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