Umbrella sundial rehomed

Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt and Ann Beck, wife of late artist Russell Beck, celebrate with Invercargill Middle School pupils at the reopening of The Umbrella Sculpture, Our People — Time and Place.

THE family of late Southland artist Russell Beck thinks he would feel honoured with the new and prominent location for one of his most renowned artworks.

The Umbrella Sculpture, Our People — Time and Place was removed from Don St, Invercargill, in July last year to allow the Invercargill City Council’s city streets upgrade roadworks to begin.

The sculpture has been in storage since then, but last Friday, council representatives and the Beck family gathered at its new location at the Town Belt Doon St reserve at the end of Esk St to celebrate the ‘‘reopening’’ of the piece.

Ann Beck said she was proud of her late husband. She remembered the whole process of creating the piece and its installation.

The Umbrella acted as a sundial and was originally installed on the summer solstice in December 2000.

It also worked as a tribute to James Stewart, a Southlander who built more than 200 sundials throughout New Zealand.

The umbrella’s canopy showed the stars in their midwinter position, she said.

‘‘The whole concept is that The Umbrella symbolises protection from sun and rain. It was designed to embrace the people of Invercargill with their time and place in the universe.

‘‘I think Russell would be pleased with the [new] site.’’

Council parks and recreation manager Caroline Rain said the sculpture and the named bricks laid underneath, bearing the surnames of people living in Invercargill at the time of the installation, were carefully lifted and redesigned in the new location.

Many families took the opportunity to try to include their family names in the bricks, but Ms Rain said the council decided to maintain only the original bricks in the art piece.

‘‘This is a sculpture and art that was done during a specific time so it was the point in time for it and we can’t change it.’’

However, she admitted removing the bricks and replacing them was not the biggest challenge her team faced when relocating the art piece.

‘‘The challenge of this was because it is a sundial and because it is related to constellation, it has to be in exactly the right place. So we had first to find the perfect location and the design was made around that.’’

Mrs Rain hoped the new location would better connect artwork in the city.