Letter sparks campaign for sculpture

BIGGEST BACKERS: Pat Unger, left, and Art Gallery director Jenny Harper celebrate the close of the successful PledgeMe campaign to raise money for the bull sculpture.
BIGGEST BACKERS: Pat Unger, left, and Art Gallery director Jenny Harper celebrate the close of the successful PledgeMe campaign to raise money for the bull sculpture.

The bull is back in town for good after a record-breaking fundraising effort, but it all started with a letter to The Press.

Christchurch woman Pat Unger wrote a letter to The Press in July last year when the Michael Parekowhai sculpture Chapman's Homer was on temporary display on Madras St.

The letter called for the artwork to remain in the city and sparked a fundraising campaign to buy the bronze sculpture of a bull on a piano for the city.

RETURNING: The bull will find a permanent home at Christchurch Art Gallery in 2015.
RETURNING: The bull will find a permanent home at Christchurch Art Gallery in 2015.

The campaign to raise $200,000 on crowdfunding website PledgeMe finished yesterday with a final total of $206,050, the most ever raised on the site.

Unger wrote in her letter to The Press that it would be ''wonderful to see this truly 21st century work in front of the repaired Christchurch Art Gallery, the restored Art Centre or by the museum".

She met with gallery director Jenny Harper yesterday to celebrate the end of the fundraising campaign. Unger said the bull sculpture was perfect for Christchurch.

''I was just stunned by how appropriate the sculpture was for Christchurch,'' she said.

''It is such a strong sculpture. It is an image that everyone can understand. Most art people look at art and ask: 'What is that?' With the bull, people felt it. You didn't need to read an essay to understand it.''

Harper said Unger's letter was proof of people's passion for the bull.

''That was the first time I had really seen people asking for art to be bought for the city and being positive about something they had seen rather than negative,'' she said.

''I think it is amazing and incredible how the community has got behind this fundraising process. I have never seen a work of art galvanise a community as positively as this.''

The money raised on the PledgeMe website was matched by the Christchurch Art Gallery Trust and Westpac Bank.

The bull will find a permanent home on the new forecourt of the Christchurch Art Gallery when it is completed in 2015, but could be displayed on other city centre sites before then.

The Press