‘Falling Waters’, the sculpture that used to adorn the Alpha Motor Inn wall, will be restored. ‘‘It will require some major restoration work, but that was understood.’’ Mayor Grant Smith
An important piece of art has been bought on behalf of Palmerston North to be restored and remounted on public display.
Falling Waters, by notable Ma¯ori sculptor Fred Graham, had been prominent on the wall of the the Alpha Motor Inn on the corner of Broadway and Victoria Ave.
Speaking at the 40th anniversary of the Te Manawa art gallery on Sunday, mayor Grant Smith announced that the city council, in a three-way partnership with the Te Manawa Art Society and the Palmerston North Sculpture Trust, had procured the piece ‘‘as is, where is’’.
‘‘It will require some major restoration work, but that was understood,’’ Smith said.
The motel, designed by David Taylor – who was also responsible for the 1977 Te Manawa Art Gallery – was partially demolished in 2015, and the distinctive copper work was put into storage by site owner Wallace Developments.
It had been commissioned from Graham in 1970 by motel owners Betty and Bill Clarke, who were friends of the artist, and who also commissioned others to paint works for the motel unit interiors.
Smith said initially the artwork wasn’t for sale, and offers were made to have the piece on permanent loan to the city. An eventual offer to buy it outright was finally accepted, though Smith said the price was confiden- tial.
‘‘[Wallace] had a valuation and we had a valuation, and we met in the middle, and the city has got a reasonably good deal.’’
He said the city would be looking to Creative NZ funding for its restoration before deciding on a site to display it publicly.
Former chairwoman of the Sculpture Trust, Junne Bendall, said she understood the artwork had been secured for $60,000, with the Trust contributing $20,000.
Bendall said it was the mayor who fronted negotiations and made the purchase possible. ‘‘The mayor drove it, actually,’’ Bendall said.
She said it was quite a small sculpture in comparison to Graham’s large-scale later works. ‘‘It’s a collector’s piece in many ways. His modern work is massive and commands a premium.’’
Major works by Graham decorate the Auckland High Court Building and the National Archives building in Wellington, while there are public pieces in British Columbia, Canada and in Seattle, Washington.