Sculpture 'coming home' to Northern Motorway

It has been suspended from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, tested on the fender of a ute at Ruapana Speedway and stored in shipping containers for nearly a decade.

Now, Christchurch sculptor Neil Dawson's giant Fanfare sculpture, a 20-metre diameter spherical grid covered in 360 revolving steel pinwheels, may be home by the end of the year.

The sculpture could be installed next to the Northern Motorway just outside Christchurch by December if a $360,000 fundraising campaign launched this week is successful.

The sculpture's backers hope it will become a gateway for the new city and "a global symbol for Christchurch as an art city".

Dawson, who also created the Chalice in Cathedral Square, was first commissioned to create Fanfare for the 2004 New Year celebrations in Sydney.

The sculpture was raised onto Sydney Harbour Bridge for the celebrations, but the city struggled to find a permanent location for it.

Dawson had a clause in his contract that meant he had the final say on any new site.

"It was going to be broken up and turned into an aviary at one stage. I was not going to let that happen to it," he said.

The sculpture was stored in pieces in shipping containers awaiting its fate when a council staff member saw a photo of Fanfare on Dawson's studio wall.

This sparked a conversation about the artwork that eventually led to Sydney gifting the $2 million sculpture to the Christchurch City Council.

It arrived in containers in 2007 and the search for a Christchurch site began.

Bromley oxidation ponds, the city centre and the eventual site near Chaney's Corner were all considered.

Dawson said the sculpture was too large for the city centre.

It was an object that "needs a landscape".

"The site it has now becomes an entranceway to the city. Driving over the Waimakariri [River] from the north . . . it is positioned right in your sightline.

"I have an image that it might look like a moon rising when you come over the bridge."

The sculpture will be illuminated at night with coloured lights.

Structural engineers tested the wind load created by the spinning fans by strapping one of them to a Dodge ute, and driving it around Ruapuna race circuit to record the forces created at different speeds.

Scape Public Art director Deborah McCormick said the public campaign aimed to raise $360,000 towards the $1.3 million installation and upgrade costs, including landscaping work around the sculpture, roadworks, car parking and lighting.

The council has contributed about $350,000 towards the costs, while construction companies Leighs Construction and Fulton Hogan have donated labour.

McCormick said bringing the sculpture to her hometown was "the highlight of my career".

"It will become a global symbol for Christchurch as an art city. It will be used like the Chalice is used for tourism in the city," she said.

The Press