Demo sculpture will be reduced to ash

TEMPORARY: A computer generated view of the sculpture to be completed in June.
TEMPORARY: A computer generated view of the sculpture to be completed in June.

A large $60,000 sculpture will be built over the next three months on a central Christchurch site left empty by the earthquakes, but it will be burnt just two weeks after it is completed.

The sculpture, made of timber recycled from demolition sites, will be 40 metres long, 25m wide and over 6m high when it is completed in June on the former site of the Convention Centre on Kilmore St.

Once completed, people will be encouraged to pin photographs or write messages on the sculpture relating to things they want to let go of. At the end of the two weeks, the sculpture will be moved to a field on the Canterbury Plains and burnt to the ground.

Christchurch artist Hippathy Valentine said construction of the sculpture started on Friday.

The sculpture would be finished in time for the summer solstice in late June after about 2000 hours of volunteer work.

"The whole idea is that when you write something out it helps you process it. Writing it down and then watching it go up in flames is a really tangible way of letting something go," he said.

Finding a site for the sculpture had been very hard and had taken 18 months.

"Our original idea was to burn the sculpture on a city-centre site. But finding somewhere to burn it within fire safety rules was a really hard task. We are not allowed to burn it in town," he said.

"There is nowhere in town where we could manage the burn and manage the thousands of people that would come along to watch. It wasn't practical."

The form of the sculpture is based on seismic readings from the February 2011 earthquakes.

The idea of setting the sculpture on fire is based on the Burning Man festival held in the United States every year.

US group Black Rock Arts Foundation has already donated $6000 to the project, which is enough for them to start building.

The Press