Sunday, May 19, 2024

Pur-fect repair for Miramar sculpture

Wellington City Council says a popular sculpture outside Miramar Library is getting a much-needed repair job thanks to a collaboration between the original artists’ son and a local artist.

‘Cat’ was sculpted from a two-tonne block of Oamaru stone by former Miramar artist, Kerk Taylor, as part of the Tareitanga Sculpture Symposium in Frank Kitts Park in 1997.

The sculpture was temporarily displayed outside the Miramar Library after the Symposium, but became so popular, a successful community campaign resulted in the artwork becoming part of the Wellington City Council’s Public Art Collection.

Local Miramar artist, Kim Beaton, contacted Council offering to undertake repair work on the worn and weather-beaten sculpture. A quest to find the artist for permission led to discovery of his death in 2016. His sculptor son Inia, however, was interested in collaborating with Kim on the restoration.

Inia Taylor (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa, Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Koroki) is a highly regarded tā moko artist and sculptor who has also created public artworks.

“Being able to repair this artwork made by my father means the world to me. The idea that Cat can survive and live on as an integral part of the community serves as a really good memory of my father and the beautiful art that he made,” he says.

Inia says that as an arts educator, his father would have loved the fact that children enjoy Cat so much. Kerk once held an exhibition called ‘Please Touch’ where visitors were encouraged to physically interact with the artworks.

The artists are seeking to retain the qualities and appearance of the original artwork while also making the artwork more robust and durable, ready for future generations of children and locals to enjoy.

Cat sculpture with for sale sign outside Miramar Library in 1997 courtesy of Wellington City Archives.
Cat outside Miramar Library in 1997 – image courtesy of Wellington City Archives

Kim says: “I live in Miramar and love it here. The Miramar Cat is a gentle, kind presence in the heart of our city. I saw the slow erosion taking hold and thought that’s not the original vision the artist had. Time has taken an unfortunate toll on its surface, and since I had the skills to fix it, it was important to offer any assistance I could.

“We wish to return the Cat back to the artist’s vision of a sweet round gentle presence. The purpose of art is to create an emotional touchstone. Good art encourages us to feel a specific connection to the surroundings. The Cat has always been perfect for the location at the Miramar Library.”

The restoration will take place over several days from today, weather permitting. The artwork will then be wrapped to dry and harden for several weeks.

The Council says a blessing of the restored artwork will take place following the restoration.

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