Art & creativity  |  3 Apr 2019

The city’s newest art acquisition – a bespoke sculpture by one of the world’s most renowned sculptors – has gone on display at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū.

The $1 million artwork – based on a brief of ‘cautious optimism' - was created especially for Christchurch by Ron Mueck and depicts an elderly man sitting in his underwear at a table with a chicken.

Ron Mueck Chicken/man 2019. Mixed media. Courtesy Anthony d’Offay, London

Ron Mueck, chicken/man 2019. Mixed media. Courtesy Anthony d’Offay, London.

More than $219,000 of the $1 million cost of the artwork was raised through a crowdfunding campaign. 

No rate money went into purchasing the sculpture.

The sculpture is the final in a series of five major works of art for the city, fundraised and purchased through the Christchurch Art Gallery Foundation to mark the five years the gallery was closed following the earthquakes.

Mueck, who worked as a model-maker and puppeteer for film and television in the United Kingdom before becoming a full-time sculptor, is renowned for creating super-realistic sculptures.

An exhibition of his works was staged at Christchurch Art Gallery in the summer of 2010/11. The exhibition was a big hit with the public, attracting more than 135,000 paying visitors to the gallery.

“We’re thrilled that Ron Mueck has created this artwork especially for Christchurch. The intense humanity of his show here captured our hearts – it was a real high point for the city before earthquakes changed our priorities.

“Now we get to bring something of that moment back for Christchurch,’’ Mr Jackson says.

“The artist has spent many, many hours on our work. There’s humour, there’s pathos, there’s charm – it’s going to have a very special place in the city’s collection.’’

Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu is open daily from 10am to 5pm. On Wednesdays the gallery stays open until 9pm.