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What the Friends of the Dunedin Botanic Garden may have thought was a simple request for the Dunedin City Council to release bequest funds for a project to extend the Lister Garden, including the installation of a commemorative sculpture, became complicated last week when councillors took a look at it during draft annual plan deliberations.
The report said the friends had already commissioned a sculpture for the new garden from Dunedin artist Stuart Griffith, whom they had worked with before and who had already designed several other pieces in the garden.
He proposed a stainless steel sculpture, representing a well or water head, a traditional meeting place, which was felt to be appropriate, because the sculpture would be located in one of the most popular areas of the garden, in front of the cafe, near the duck pond.
It would be inscribed with a commemorative message and would have a budget of $60,000, including design, manufacture, installation and landscaping.
The report received an emotional response from councillors, who were mainly dismayed with the lack of information about the process by which the proposed sculpture had been chosen.
They were also concerned about the lack of detail in attached drawings and the accompanying report and asked staff to report back again on options for procuring a sculpture other than that proposed and already commissioned.
In a report prepared for a council meeting today, Botanic Garden team leader Alan Matchett recommended the council either approve Mr Griffith's proposed sculpture or ask staff to call for proposals from local artists using the same brief given Mr Griffith.
A selection panel of Botanic Garden managers, a landscape architect involved with the garden and arts sector representatives would then choose the successful artwork.
It was unclear yet how much the process would cost, but the money would have to come from internal budgets.
It was intended an artwork would be confirmed by the anniversary on June 30, and for the finished work to be unveiled during the Botanic Garden World Congress in Dunedin in October.
Planning for the Lister Garden extension could proceed in the meantime.