Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Geometric regrowth

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Guy Ngan's 'Geometric Growth' 1974 - detailWe're all getting used to new public artworks popping up around the city these days, so the stealthy arrival of these cubes and poles in Wakefield St beside the Michael Fowler Centre probably won't have raised many eyebrows. But this sculpture stands out from some of the recent additions in that it looks a little, well, Seventies.

There's a very good reason for that, since this is Guy Ngan's 1974 sculpture Geometric Growth. It was originally sited at the corner of Victoria and Mercer streets, but was removed in 1989 to make way for the Civic Square development. Since then it has been languishing slightly damaged in council storage, and according to some sources it even went missing for a while. With Ngan's work going through a bit of a revival at the moment, including a surprising show at the City Gallery and a popular t-shirt design by Starfish, this was always going to be a timely occasion to reinstall his sculpture.

Guy Ngan's 'Geometric Growth' 1974 - relocated near the Michael Fowler CentreYou'll probably know some of his work without realising it, such as Taiaha beside the Reserve Bank, the concrete mural on the Thorndon Quay side of the National Archives building, or the abstract white snakes in the middle of the Stokes Valley roundabout. It seems that Ngan was the go-to guy whenever there was a lump of late-modernist concrete in need of a bit of a zhush. Not all of his work has survived: does anyone know what happened to his sculpture on the Willis St side of what's now the Just Hotel? If the owners of that hotel treat artworks the way they treat kowhai, then it's probably been hacked into little pieces by now.

Update: there's now a news item on the council website about the sculpture.


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