Scrap the V8s sculpture say critics

DANIEL ADAMS
Last updated 16:20 18/02/2013
Hamilton's V8 sculpture
Peter Drury/Fairfax NZ

WIPED OUT: There are growing calls to remove forever Hamilton's V8s sculpture after it was damaged in a car crash.

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The jury is in and the V8s scuplture is out

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Critics of Hamilton's $150,000 V8s sculpture, badly damaged when a car ploughed into it, say the controversial installation should be scrapped or moved rather than repaired.

The 60-year-old Hamilton driver was discharged from hospital on yesterday, however the crash has become a catalyst for debate over the art work's future as council staff move to cost repairs.

Public reaction online has been overwhelmingly for removing the "eyesore", with many saying it should be scrapped, and others questioning whether the polarising work belongs elsewhere.

Pedestrian advocates Living Streets coordinator Judy McDonald said Sunday's accident was "a wonderful opportunity" to return some of the Hinemoa Park green space lost to the V8s' pit lane.

"It's an opportunity to replace some of the trees taken out, to enormous public protest, when the track was set up. Turn it into a nice green space with a shared cycling walking path," she said.

She would be happy to see it re-sited: "It's a shame to waste a public sculpture, so if it can be repaired for a reasonable cost and moved somewhere else, then that has to be a good thing."

Mesh trust, which raises funds for public art in Hamilton, chairman Nancy Caiger said the work was part of the city's public art collection and had been conceived and built for that specific site.

"If there's a better use for that area now that it's not needed for pit lane then perhaps it could be relocated. I would much prefer to see the sculpture located in grounds with greenery it, where children can play with it, and it can be much more than something just to look at," she said.

Theatre of the Impossible trust member and former mayor Margaret Evans said the V8s races were now history "and I think there are enough memories without maintaining a sculpture".

"Without giving it too much thought, I'd like to see the area returned to trees. I think Passing Red was absolutely appropriate for the commission given, but it's good to have this conversation."

Councillor Martin Gallagher said the work didn't fit: "It's time for it to go, and over time, restore the green space. I'll certainly be strongly opposing any public money being spent on repairs. With due respect to the sculptor, the 'V8 Memorial' sculpture is no longer appropriate for that area."

Fellow councillor Ewan Wilson was of a similar mind, and endorsed a return to green space.

City Council spokesman Aaron Fleming said staff were looking currently only at restoring or replacing the insured artwork, with their attention focused yesterday on making the site safe.

Re-siting or removing it would have to involve the public art panel and its funder, he said.

Initial assessments showed the entire eastern section of the sculpture, by Hamilton artist Gaye Jurasich and funded by the Perry Foundation, had been significantly damaged, he said.

Former Perry Foundation national grants manager Jennifer Palmer said the artworks's funding came without any caveats, and what happened next "is entirely the decision of [the council]".

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"As is often the case with contemporary art, some people loved Passing Red and others didn't - it's just great that so many people are interested in it," she said.

- Waikato Times

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