Sculp­ture snared

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

‘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.

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