More sculpture ideas sought

Proposals will be sought from local Dunedin artists for a sculpture to celebrate the Dunedin Botanic Garden's 150th birthday.

The sculpture will be part of the Lister Garden, which will be extended using bequest funds released by Dunedin City Councillors yesterday.

A concept for the sculpture had already been commissioned from Dunedin artist Stuart Griffiths by the Friends of the Dunedin Botanic Garden, which wanted to mark the anniversary.

As they could not raise the funds in time to pay for it, and after discussion with garden management, it was decided management would ask councillors to release bequest funds.

Councillors became concerned about the process of choosing the artwork and sought more information.

When a report was considered at a council meeting yesterday, councillors were spilt on whether to stick with Mr Griffiths' proposal, or seek others from local artists and have a panel of garden management, a landscape architect and arts sector representatives select one.

Crs Fliss Butcher and Bill Acklin said Mr Griffiths' other work in the garden was fantastic and the council should just let him get on and get the job done.

Cr Acklin also said he did not believe the piece belonged in the same category as public places art, as it was an anniversary project, and the council should support the Friends' choice.

On the other hand, Cr Richard Thomson said while voting against simply going ahead with the proposed sculpture felt awkward because Mr Griffiths had acted in good faith and his other work in the garden was great, at some point the council had to hold fast to an earlier resolution it made around opening up the selection process for public art.

Similarly, Cr Jinty MacTavish said her vote was not against the sculpture or the garden, but for an alternative process.

After Mayor Dave Cull used his casting vote to reject the recommendation moved by Cr Acklin that the council go with the work already commissioned, councillors voted in favour of staff seeking further proposals with the same specifications and setting up a panel to select a winner.

''I think the sculpture suggested [by Mr Griffiths] is fine ... but we want the best we can get and we only get it when we have a choice and if his is the best, it will be chosen,'' Mr Cull said.

Mr Reece told councillors the selection process would be a sort of preliminary model for how public art for Dunedin would be procured in the future under new council policy being worked through at present.

A panel would now be selected and proposals sought, with an artwork to be selected before the garden's anniversary on June 30.

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