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May 2, 2011 | by  | in Opinion |
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Kate Follows Celia – Beef with a Sculpture

I’ve had a beef with Celia and the Wellington City Council lately. They’re all too happy to increase rates to cover the cost of projects the public don’t want; Celia’s come out in favour of this Basin Flyover business; the Central Library will be closing earlier; some councillors don’t appear to respect Celia at all—the list goes on. I also have continual beef with the Rugby World Cup, which I suspect stems from my general dislike of sport.

When the two combine (and a Salient theme of design is added to the mix), you end up with a sculpture that epitomises my beef.

The Council have decided to spend $350,000 on a sculpture for the Rugby World Cup. It will be four to five meters tall, and will doubtless end up on the waterfront. Designed by Weta Workshop, boss Sir Richard Taylor says it shows players jumping in a line out in “celebration of the pursuit of the ball”. Also represented: Island Bay, fault lines, two aggressive forces coming together, and individual pursuit.

Personally, I prefer the suggestions of what it better resembles made on a recent Wellingtonista blog post. Favourites include “tourist drawcard, on a par with Dannevirke’s Viking”; “woman-positive depiction of a labia and vaginal opening”; and “a horde of zombies emerging from the earth in order to wreak destruction and consume brains”.

Taylor believes this sculpture to represent Wellington, and the love our city has for rugby. I disagree with both of those statements. As the annual Sevens competition is more about the party, and less about the rugby, the only time Wellington as a whole will be focused on the sport is when the World Cup rolls around in September. So, this sculpture will represent Wellington for six weeks—but after that, its tackiness will be a lasting embarrassment. And what if the All Blacks lose? This sculpture could become a constant reminder of an increase in domestic violence. A landmark erected in honour of football—hell, roller derby—would better represent Wellington. I don’t even know the name of the local rugby team.

And it was designed by Weta Workshop. Why is a special effects and props company responsible for this piece of public art? Has the Council heard of the Wellington Sculpture Trust? From the look of their name, I’d say this project would be right up their alley.

Finally, I dislike that the Council is spending so much money on this. Residential rates have increased yet again—but to fund this? If we must spend on the World Cup, there are alternatives. Subsiding public transport during the World Cup period, for example, would make for happier tourists, and do more to encourage them to return than a kitsch sculpture on the waterfront. I do not believe that $350,000 worth of sculpture will bring in $350,000 worth of extra tourism spending.

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