Statue about to be unveiled

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    A STATUE which historian Lloyd Esler describes as “not too bad” for the price will be unveiled next month.

    After more than two years of discussions and fundraising, the life-size bronze statue of musician and composer Alex Lithgow who “put Invercargill on the map” will be on view to the public.

    In August 2016 Australian sculptors Gillie and Marc offered to produce a bronze statue for Invercargill, free of charge apart from the casting expenses, metal and transport from Australia, which had been estimated at about $50,000, Mr Esler said.

    A variety of people had been suggested, but it was Lithgow who had proved the most popular, Mr Esler, the chairman of the Alex Lithgow Statue Trust said.

    A member of the Invercargill Garrison Band from 1881-1894, Lithgow wrote and composed the Invercargill March, which is still played by brass bands around the world.

    “The statue has Lithgow holding his characteristic cornet in one hand and a sheaf of paper – the Invercargill March– raised triumphantly in the other hand. He is wearing his band uniform.”

    After discussing with the council where to place the statue, it was agreed a site beside the Civic Theatre would be best, Mr Esler said.

    “There he is in good company with the plaques commemorating Invercargill artistic and musical achievers. The Civic Theatre, with over 100 years of performing arts to its credit and on the other side [of the statue] – [the former] St John’s Church, soon to be another venue for the [Southern Institute of Technology] performing arts.

    Funding for the statue had been provided by public donations and major sponsors, with the installation, landscaping and lighting paid for by the Invercargill City Council.

    Mr Esler said he hoped visiting musicians would pay homage to Lithgow “by blasting out the Invercargill March on whatever brass instrument which came to hand”, as well as others to take the opportunity to take selfies at the statue. “I am quite pleased the project is finished and hope the city appreciates him.”

    The unveiling of the statue will take place on Saturday, April 13, at 3pm. The trust wanted to hear from musicians who were able to perform the Invercargill March during the unveiling. For more information, phone Lloyd Esler on 021 176 6580.

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