Art in public places: Dunedin worms and wyrms #snakesinthegrass

Updated post Monday, 2 Feb 2015 at 4:07 p.m.

Worm (Julia Morison)

### ODT Online Mon, 15 Jul 2013
Editorial: How the worm turns
It seems there is nothing quite like the issue of public art to stimulate debate. Whether it be form, function, meaning, materials, longevity, cost, location, the work’s title, or the artist’s “qualifications”, the works inevitably prompt a great outpouring of comments from the public. When it comes to publicly-funded art in the outdoor public arena, it is understandable some ratepayers want to have their say. After all, they have to see it and they have to pay for it. One of the most-debated issues is often the cost, with many projects being deemed expensive.
In a city rich with educational institutions, heritage, and a strong artistic legacy, such projects have been deemed worthy of funding by the council for many years, and frequently indicated as important by the public in the likes of residents opinion surveys. There is no doubt striking the right balance is no easy task, particularly given art, by its very nature, is subjective, and cannot necessarily “please” everyone.
Given that the response to art works is the huge unknown – it is all the more important the areas that can be calculated are done so – and done so clearly: the artist, the artist’s brief, the art work’s purpose, visual expectations including height and size, suitability for its location, and of course, cost. And, sadly, it is in these fundamental areas in which the latest controversial public art proposal appears to have fallen down.
Read more

Worm (Julia Morison) 2

Related ODT stories:
8.7.13 [Opinion] Art Beat: More than just a muddle
3.7.13 Council rejects artwork criticism
2.7.13 Sculptors question selection process
1.7.13 Botanic Garden to get huge worm
30.6.13 Botanic Garden marks 150th
30.6.13 [Magazine] Putting down some roots

Related Posts and Comments:
15.1.14 Botanic Garden: Visitor-vandals caught by DCC webcam
30.12.13 Botanic Garden: Ouroboros
3.1.12 Art in public places #Dunedin

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Images via ODT [screenshots]

11 Comments

Filed under Business, Construction, DCC, Design, Economics, Heritage, Media, Name, New Zealand, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Urban design

11 responses to “Art in public places: Dunedin worms and wyrms #snakesinthegrass

  1. I would say, like many others, that the DPAG director had a large part to play in Morison’s selection, if not initial approach to the artist. The council bureaucracy, there to make and break the rules of contract (RFP included) around this artist commission, should be poked hard with a stick, just like the worm.

    ### ODT Online Sun, 11 Aug 2013
    DCC denies collusion in sculpture process
    By Chris Morris
    Members of the Otago Sculpture Trust are calling for the Dunedin City Council to start from scratch as it prepares to sign a contract for a new sculpture at the Dunedin Botanic Garden. Council staff have confirmed they had concluded negotiations for a giant worm sculpture, Ouroboros, by Julia Morison, and expected to sign a contract next week. Council parks, recreation and aquatics group manager Mick Reece said the aim was still to have the sculpture completed by the end of October, in time for the garden’s 150th celebrations.
    A group of Otago Sculpture Trust members [has] issued a joint statement to the Otago Daily Times renewing criticism of the council’s handling of the project. The statement, signed by trust chairman Stephen Mulqueen and 13 other members, called for the project to be scrapped and the commissioning process to begin again.
    Read more

  2. Anonymous

    But isn’t Ouroboros a parasite that continually chews on its own arsehole? While that aspect might be appropriate to Dunedin’s council and its Stakeholders, the drawing depictred in the Oddity seems inconsistent with what the name means and is more like an overpriced tunnel toy, just without the fun tunnel bit. I am concerned about the questionable contract arrangement and money involved, including that council staff once again appear to be a law unto themselves, but I’m also worried some bureaucrat decides this too needs to be sealed in big bloody glass box.

    I can’t wait to see the plaque though: This worm dedicated by Dave Cull.

  3. Peter

    I think Mick Reece needs to be overridden on this one. This flawed process is so mind-bogglingly obvious that any failure to remedy it speaks loudly of some duplicitous deal done behind the scenes.
    The process is so manifestly unfair as it stands.

  4. Hype O'Thermia

    Who whispered to the artist that it was OK to put up a piece way above the advertised budget? Who murmured that the bit in the specifications about artist’s fee could be ignored by that one person, resulting in this: “the artist’s fee of about $30,000 was on top, and would give the council ownership of the work”? Who didn’t bother telling any of the other artists trying for this commission that they needn’t to take notice of the rules?

    Who thinks it’s OK to handicap all but one person in a competition, by giving all but one a set of relatively restrictive rules that they obey, so the one who doesn’t have rules, wins? Answer: Mick Reece.

    Who thinks that’s a corrupt practice? Me, I do. How about you?

    • At the risk of thinking I’m taking marriage vows – I DO !!!

      • As we’ve come to expect – lucid reckonings at the Dunedin Amenities Society website, from daseditor:

        The Early Bird Gets the Worm (August 12, 2013)
        http://dunedin-amenities-society.org.nz/2013/08/12/the-early-bird-gets-the-worm/

        [excerpt]
        “In August 2012 the Dunedin City Council slashed its public-place art works budget and new works are on hold until the art in public places policy is reviewed. Yet that review has been oddly quiet and nothing has been made public as to when that policy will be reviewed or how. Recently in the Otago Daily Times Mayor Cull challenged critics of the selection of “Ouroboros” to come up with a better process, if they did not like the outcome. That’s less of a challenge to the art loving Dunedin public and more of one to the Council’s own failings in the procedures and policy relating to art in public places. If anything can be learned from many of the controversies surrounding public art works it’s the Council’s inability to provide a meaningful policy that has caused such an outcry. That’s the real challenge which unfortunately has yet to be taken up by the City Council.”

        Hear hear.

  5. ### dunedintv.co.nz December 12, 2013 – 7:13pm
    Worm sculpture finally burrowing into position
    After two delays, the installation of an $85,000 worm sculpture finally got under way this afternoon at the Dunedin Botanic Garden.
    Video

    • ### dunedintv.co.nz December 13, 2013 – 7:02pm
      New sculpture worming its way into the hearts of little ones
      Technicians installing the new $85,000 worm sculpture at the Dunedin Botanic Garden have made quick work of their task. After ironing out some small issues with lighting the sculpture Ouroboros was in place by lunchtime. And the work to celebrate the garden’s 150th quickly became very popular with one demographic at least.
      Video

  6. Friends of friends got Julia Morison on the books for this less than appealing addition to the area in front of the Botanic Garden tea kiosk. Morison is not known for her portfolio of sculptural works, which are few and far between. Was she picked on merit, I think not. The director of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and others of his ilk knew her, of course. A shameful reprehensible process was entered into by DCC (Mick Reece and friends) that saw the budget extended for this artist’s work – denying fair consideration to all other artists who submitted to the conditions of the given brief. This after roundly insulting sculptor Stuart Griffiths. That Morison did not pull her head in and demand fairness for all shows exactly what she’s made of. Novel for the moment, inappropriately sited, the metal object has no lasting virtue aethetically. Hopefully, a garden tractor takes it out one day – or some wanton vandal with cutting gear.

    ### ODT Online Sat, 14 Dec 2013
    The worm has turned up
    By Debbie Porteous
    A giant glowing worm has appeared above ground at the Dunedin Botanic Garden. The flexible worm, which can bend because it is constructed from thousands of pieces of interlocked and articulating marine-grade stainless steel, was installed over the past two days. Manufactured in Hamilton, it was transported to Dunedin in two pieces and welded together by Farra Engineering on site at the garden.
    Read more

  7. Anonymous

    While the ODT sought the positives and ensured the creation crawled with children – a very sensible position by the photographer – I can’t quite connect a metal tube with $85,000 of public money. As for “thousands of pieces of interlocked and articulating marine-grade stainless steel” that was transportable in two parts, I’ll have to take a closer look next time just for curiousity’s sake. I still can’t help feeling the artist arrived at the connection of worm and dirt after the fact and was more enthused about Ouroboros. Nice to see the reporter broached the connection on behalf of the artist for the community’s sake.

    As for “flexible worm”, I think it entirely fits with the Dunedin City Council. There are still plenty of parasites in that council who bend to the whims of a few and ensure large amounts of money are artistically funneled elsewhere. Most of the rest and one in particular have their heads firmly up their backsides.

  8. Careful ‘Anon’, that particular worm is not for turning, even with its flexibility.

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