Glossy sculpture too bright for comfort

The Derek Ball sculpture outside the Dunedin City Library will soon be back in place with more muted colours. Inset: The sculpture in 2007. Photo: Craig Baxter.
The Derek Ball sculpture outside the Dunedin City Library will soon be back in place with more muted colours. Photo: Craig Baxter.
A repainted Dunedin kinetic sculpture that ''strobed'' sunlight into surrounding offices after being painted with gloss paint is soon to return in a more muted form.

The Derek Ball work that spun outside the Dunedin City Library was removed late last year, at which time the Dunedin City Council said it would be back before Christmas.

The work had developed a ''strobe'' effect after the council ''inadvertently'' painted it with a gloss finish.

Council arts and culture group manager Bernie Hawke said when it was repainted the right coating or colour was not used.

''That's being addressed with the artist.''

Artist Derek Ball, now living in Nelson, was commissioned to complete the work by Arthur Barnett Ltd to coincide with the opening of the new library building in 1981.

Mr Ball, a former Frances Hodgkins Fellow, said he came to Dunedin late last year for the 50 Years of the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship exhibition.

''I noticed that it wasn't there,'' he said of the sculpture.

He approached the council through the library, and ''eventually got down to the engineering workshop where it was actually housed''.

Mr Ball said he was told when the sculpture had been taken down for work to be done on the bearings it had been repainted.

That painting had been done with a high gloss finish, and once it was reinstalled the spinning parts of the sculpture were ''strobing light into the surrounding offices and causing mayhem''.

Mr Ball said he saw it ''in all its glossy glory'' at the workshop, and noticed it was also painted in the wrong colours, being too dark.

Once he returned home, while he did not have the original colours, he sent a ''rough sample of colours that were closer to what they should be'' to the painter.

Mr Hawke confirmed there had been issues with light reflecting from the gloss paint that had ''inadvertently'' been used.

''That was realised when it started to strobe in the excess glare.''

That had alerted the council the wrong paint had been used.

Mr Ball's input was good, as it was ''highly desirable'' the original colours were returned to the work.

Mr Hawke said he understood the painting work was close to completion.

He hoped it would be back in place within the next month.

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