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No sooner were the covers pulled from artist Paul Dibble’s five bronze statues during an unveiling at the University of Otago yesterday, they looked like they had somewhere else to be.
The 3.2m-tall statues are part of Dr Dibble’s $500,000 sculpture, titled Pathways, which was given to the university by the Stuart Residence Halls Council, to celebrate its 75th anniversary.
They stand around a cross modelled on the national emblem of Scotland, the St Andrew’s cross, all of which draw on Celtic, Scottish and literary elements that reflect the Stuart Residence Halls Council, along with local flora and fauna.
The work has been strategically placed in a busy pedestrian area at the junction of Union Walk and Castle Walk — between the Union Lawn and Clocktower Building.
Dr Dibble said inserting sculptural people among real people seemed an interesting idea, and the cross tied the work together while also expressing links to the university, the area and the Stuart Residence Halls Council.
Stuart Residence Halls Council chairwoman Margot Skinner hoped the bronze sculpture would become a major cultural landmark at the university — "one that students, staff and visitors can interact with every day as they walk across the campus".
Dr Skinner the artwork would celebrate the council’s 75th anniversary in a way that enhanced the campus with a feature everyone could enjoy.
"The council’s vision was to donate a unique and iconic artwork, a statement piece that would portray the council’s heritage and its strong association with students, while also highlighting the university as a Dunedin-based international centre of learning excellence."
University of Otago Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne said the gift was a very generous contribution to the university’s strategic aim of providing outstanding campus environments, and it was a salute to the country’s very accomplished arts community.
"The university is proud of the strong and vibrant relationship it has enjoyed with the council during the past 75 years, and grateful for the personal commitment the various members of the council have volunteered over that period, to enriching the university on so many different levels."
The Stuart Residence Halls Council was formed in 1941 by elders of Knox Church and the Reverend Dr Harold Turner, to develop accommodation for University of Otago students.