Lower Hutt faces spend-up on public art conservation projects

Repairs to Russell Clark's Free Standing Forms could run to more than $120,000.
MICHAEL LULICH

Repairs to Russell Clark's Free Standing Forms could run to more than $120,000.

More than $120,000 could be needed to keep a prominent public sculpture atop its pedestal in Lower Hutt.

A conservation assessment by the Hutt City Council's arts and culture subcommittee has found some of the city's best-known public artworks to be in poor shape.

In particular need of conservation was Russell Clark's Free Standing Forms, which had suffered from extensive weather damage. The exterior of the sculpture, outside the Little Theatre in Queens Dr, had started crumbling away to expose the internal metal structure.

Free Standing Forms encased in scaffolding and plastic wrap to protect it from the weather.
MATTHEW TSO/STUFF

Free Standing Forms encased in scaffolding and plastic wrap to protect it from the weather.

It has been enclosed in scaffolding and a protective wrap since July while council officers assessed what should be done to save the work.

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Conservation work was estimated at a maximum cost of $120,152.

Weather damage has crumbled the exterior of Free Standing Forms to expose structural metal bars.
MATTHEW TSO/STUFF

Weather damage has crumbled the exterior of Free Standing Forms to expose structural metal bars.

Two conservators had been approached for independent assessments of the sculpture, and both concluded the work would need to be removed to enable repairs. Whether or not the work could be returned to outdoor display could be made only once restoration started.

An application had been made to Lotteries New Zealand's Environment and Heritage Fund to cover two-thirds of the removal, storage and repair costs. The council would meet the remaining third.

The assessment found 17 of 28 public artworks in the city required work. Community services general manager Matt Reid said the council was in the same position as other authorities around the country, where public art had not been managed in a consistent way.

AnneMarie van Splunter's Play Module in Dowse Square was found to have surface damage and minor chipping due to heavy ...
MATTHEW TSO/STUFF

AnneMarie van Splunter's Play Module in Dowse Square was found to have surface damage and minor chipping due to heavy public use.

The council was now looking to manage and protect public art proactively, and a working group of officers was co-ordinating maintenance.

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He said the council was keen to redress the Clark sculpture before the next annual plan, and expected to know the outcome of its Lotteries Commission application in December.

An arts and culture subcommittee order paper said a decision to either store the sculpture until a restoration budget was confirmed, or remove and sell it would need to be made if the bid was unsuccessful.

The stone sculpture at the Buick St fountain needs to be resealed.

The stone sculpture at the Buick St fountain needs to be resealed.

Other works in need of work were the Louise Purvis sculpture at the Buick St fountain in Petone, which needed to be cleaned and recoated in a protective sealant, at an estimated cost of $10,000; and the AnneMarie van Splunter Play Modules in Dowse Square, which had suffered damage from heavy public use.

Costs to restore and coat the Play Modules in an anti-graffiti treatment were estimated at $8050.

Some of Debra Bustin's Cement Fondue sculptures at Hikoikoi Park were found to be damaged beyond repair. They were being removed, and Bustin had been contracted to repair the remaining works.

 - Stuff

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