Moving sculpture for art bridge would be 'ironic' - designer

Chris Booth's Taurapa sculpture on the banks of the Avon River on Tuesday.
JOSEPH JOHNSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Chris Booth's Taurapa sculpture on the banks of the Avon River on Tuesday.

The Government may move a large stone sculpture on the banks of the Avon River to make way for a proposed art bridge.

Leading Christchurch landscape architect Di Lucas said moving the sculpture would be "ironic". 

New Crown company Otakaro Ltd has proposed a cycle and pedestrian bridge across the river, between Colombo and Manchester streets. The art bridge could mean that a 1997 sculpture by artist Chris Booth called Taurapa may have to be moved.

Chris Booth's Taurapa sculpture on the banks of the Avon River in 1997.
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Chris Booth's Taurapa sculpture on the banks of the Avon River in 1997.

An Ōtākaro spokesman said it was "unlikely" the sculpture would need to move. It if did, it would be a short distance.  

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"The brief requires design teams to accommodate Taurapa in their proposals. If geotechnical assessments have an impact on the bridge's exact location then it may be necessary to shift Taurapa a short distance. The project team has been discussing this with the artist, Ngai Tahu and Matapopore for about a year."

The art bridge is proposed for a stretch of the Avon River between Manchester St and Colombo St.
SUPPLIED

The art bridge is proposed for a stretch of the Avon River between Manchester St and Colombo St.

Lucas said moving the sculpture would be "simplistic and insensitive".

"It is a beautiful piece and it has huge foundations. It survived the quakes. It is the only serious artwork on the Avon," she said. 

Otakaro last month called for people to contribute design theme ideas for the bridge.

The design will be chosen through an open national competition. Concept designs will be shortlisted by a panel. The shortlisted designs will then be exhibited for public feedback before a winner is chosen.

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The bridge could be complete in two years under Otakaro's plans. 

In March, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority anchor projects development director Rob Kerr told a public meeting that the competition was an opportunity to "create one of the most iconic and spectacular pieces of art that just happens to be useful as a bridge".

The bridge idea has received a cautious welcome from some Christchurch architects and designers.

Artist Andrew Drummond, who designed a river bridge for the city in the late 1990s that was shelved after a political row, believes the bridge is "possibly unnecessary".

Booth consulted Ngai Tahu when selecting boulders for the artwork in 1996. A Ngai Tahu spokeswoman said trustees had been consulted on the bridge's possible impact on the sculpture.

"They haven't any further comment," she said.

Artist Chris Booth could not be reached for comment.

 - Stuff

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