Beloved celebrity cat to get $25,000 statue
Erecting a $25,000 bronze statue in memory of your dead cat may seem excessive.
But, as the staff at Auckland’s Devonport Library say, if you’d met Benjamin, their resident feline for 15 years, you wouldn’t think so.
‘‘Someone said to me it’s not us that humanise animals, its animals that humanise us, and I thought ‘yeah, that’s what really happens when an animal becomes part of the community of its own volition’,’’ Devonport librarian Fiona Startup said.
‘‘Benjamin just chose to be there. He had a perfectly good home and decided, no, he was going to live in the library and he was going to be the village cat.’’
Benjamin died on January 27 and, following a public service that attracted over 200 people, Startup was encouraged by her daughter to create a statue in his likeness.
Following talks with her colleagues at Devonport Library, on Auckland’s North Shore, it was proposed a onemetre bronze statue of Benjamin sitting atop a pile of books could be placed beside the library entrance.
Having trained as a sculptor in Auckland and California, Startup is confident she is capable of doing justice to Benjamin’s ‘‘feisty personality’’.
‘‘I really like the idea that it’s a bit quirky having a sculpture of the local cat in the village. I think it fits with Devonport as well, it’s always been quite an arty village.
‘‘It will get the afternoon sun there and get warm. You can just imagine he will get a shiny head from everyone stroking it.’’
With the library’s ambitions set, it’s now a process of obtaining Auckland Council consent to place a structure on public land, and raising the funds from the public.
Startup has already knocked a considerable sum off the $25,000 price tag, through a subsidy on the bronze casting work from Richard Wells, of Artworks foundry, who said he could do it for $9000.
A further $1500 will be needed for installation, with Startup sculpting for free. A Givealittle page has been set up to raise $10,000 from the community, with fundraising events planned.
A petition supporting the statue will add weight to the landowner consent application.
Benjamin lived at the Library for more than a decade and, when it was rebuilt in 2015, a cat flap was installed for him.
Fiona Startup with a rough sketch of the planned Benjamin the cat bronze sculpture.