Heads on columns to remember Waikato heroes
Hamilton's most notable sons and daughters could soon have their heads mounted on plinths along the city's main street.
The first work to be endorsed by city councillors will depict acclaimed Gallipoli soldier and artist Horace Moore-Jones.
The installation is likely to feature a one-metre "representational" bronze cast of Mr Moore-Jones' head mounted on a three to four-metre high plinth.
The artwork is the brainchild of Hamilton group, Theatre of the Impossible Trust (Toti).
Former Hamilton mayor and trust member Margaret Evans said the sculpture could be the first in a series of works celebrating Hamilton's "heroes and heroines" along Victoria St.
A similar art initiative has been carried out in Chicago depicting notable city figures.
"Sapper Moore-Jones is an artist and soldier and an incredibly rich example of personal heroism," Ms Evans said.
"He's also a key figure in the Waikato's arts".
Mr Moore-Jones, whose watercolour Man and the Donkey is regarded as one of the most important pieces of Australasian war art, died while rescuing others from the devastating Hamilton Hotel fire in 1922.
The sculpture will be positioned close to the site of the former hotel, near the intersection of Victoria St and Marlborough Pl.
Councillors at yesterday's operations and activity performance committee meeting endorsed the artwork being erected on a Victoria St island provided it did not result in a "net loss" of inner city carparks. Council staff work will also work with the trust to ensure the sculpture's design does not compromise road safety or visibility.
Councillor Dave Macpherson said the sculpture would be located inside Victoria St's 30kmh speed zone.
Incidents of pedestrians being hit by cars had fallen since the introduction of the lower speed limit, he said.
Arts advocate Hamish Keith said the Sapper Moore-Jones sculpture could set a precedent for other artwork along Victoria St.
"Hamilton has many heroes and heroines and Victoria St is the perfect site to acknowledge them," he said.
"By using the street, people can walk along the footpath and have a conversation with the city's past in a very non-complicated way. These works don't have to be abstract because there's nothing more powerful than the human visage. But they need to be monumental in scale and creative in execution; they can't be portraits on a stick."
The city council has already agreed to rename Marlborough Pl Sapper Moore Jones Pl.
Gallipoli historian Richard Stowers said Mr Moore-Jones was "a hero on Gallipoli and here in our city".
"This is a golden opportunity for Hamilton to grab him as our own. He was born in England but he lived and died in Hamilton.
"Here in Hamilton we have very little that recognises our contribution to the World Wars. I struggle to find street and place names associated with battles, campaigns, personalities and national heroes."
Toti is working to fundraise $250,000 for the sculpture.
Ms Evans said the trust initially hoped to unveil the work in August 2014 to commemorate the city's 150th anniversary.