Art­work to be re­moved

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

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.

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