Stone artworks to be relocated

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    Invercargill City Council works and services director Cameron McIntosh with Southland artist Johnny Penisula's Lady Octopus sculpture in the gardens of the bird aviary in Queens Park. Photo: Petrina Wright

    TWO sculptures in Invercargill’s Queen Park are on the move much to the delight of their creator, Southland artist Johnny Penisula.

    The Invercargill City Council (ICC) has agreed to relocate Penisula’s Lady Octopus and Ladybird sculptures after he raised concerns about their locations in the park.

    Lady Octopus was a feature in the gardens of the bird aviary and Ladybird among the animal enclosures.

    “The pieces were not designed to go where animals are,” Penisula said.

    He had been pleased when the ICC bought the large stone artworks for the city in 2007, but the pieces had been placed in the park without consulting him, he said.

    “I have been very hurt and upset about it for 10 years.”

    The pieces were designed to be kept as a pair as they complemented each other, he said.

    Creating pieces in pairs was the theme of his work, with the intention of placing them close enough to be “seen” by each other.

    Southland artist Johnny Penisula at home with one of his sculptures. Photo: Petrina Wright

    Also, the pieces needed to be respected because some of the lines in the sculptures were used in tattooing, something very respected in his Samoan culture, he said.

    He wanted them moved “anywhere where there are no animals around”.

    Artists make art for people to view, admire and talk about, Penisula said.

    “If [the public] don’t get to where the artworks are, they are not artworks.”

    ICC works and services director Cameron McIntosh said he had been made aware of Penisula’s concerns within the past year.

    The council was open to relocating the pieces, and it did not necessarily have to be within the park, he said.

    After speaking with Penisula, Mr McIntosh said he understood the pieces had a huge amount of meaning for the artist.

    “I could see how important this is to him. They have a lot of cultural meaning… and are very personal pieces to him.

    “…we have to respect that.”

    He did not know how much relocating the artworks would cost, but said it would fall within normal park operations.

    It was anticipated the pieces would be moved in summer in consultation with Penisula, he said.

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