Artwork to be removed
A CONTROVERSIAL artwork removed from Queens Wharf depicting strikebreaking on Auckland’s waterfront will be changed after a public backlash.
The black silhouette of a baton-wielding strike-breaker employed to impede protesting dock workers in 1913 was installed on September 27.
It is one of five pieces capturing the history of the waterfront as part of Waterfront Auckland’s Tamaki Makaurau – Many Lovers of Auckland project.
According to its website the project features characters who have at some time contributed to Auckland’s growth and success.
‘‘Each story will be told by one of Auckland’s many admirers,’’ the website says.
Waterfront Auckland received one complaint on Facebook about the work and it was also the subject of negative feedback on Twitter.
Auckland councillor Mike Lee and Ponsonby art critic Hamish Keith are among those offended by its depiction of strike-breakers as heroes of Auckland.
A Waterfront Auckland spokesman says the figures were chosen based on the relevance of their actions to the particular episodes of history being discussed and to what extent they symbolised this.
But Mr Keith says in the context of ‘‘lovers of Auckland’’ a strike-breaker was the wrong choice.
‘‘It just seems wrong to me. You don’t become a lover of Auckland by bashing people’s faces in.’’
Mr Keith says it is the narrative and the context of the piece, not the physical work, which drew complaints. It isn’t a case of censoring art or history, he says.
‘‘First of all it’s not art, it is a work commissioned to an overall brief that is ‘ lovers of Auckland’. It was a considerable moment in the waterfront’s history but the wrong person has been chosen for its narrative and context.’’
Mr Lee took up his complaint with Waterfront Auckland chairman Bob Harvey who agreed the work could cause offence. The research team involved with creating the installation will meet with Mr Lee and a historian this week to provide some context on the work.
The project will spread across other waterfront sites in the future. Works will include the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, the old salt-water baths at St Mary’s Bay, the boatbuilding industry on Wynyard Point and the flying-boat airport at Mechanics Bay.