The Eye of the Fish

Maximus
December 7, 2008

Hook of the Fish

We had another post planned for today, but if ever there was a story that this blog should be discussing, then this is it. We’re big on mythology here at Eye of the Fish – we like the improbable tale that Maui and his brothers were in a big waka and overdid it with their kai moana quota, and basically fished up Aotearoa from the depths. (updated 12th December – see pictures below)

te_ika_a_maui.jpg

Wellington is the Eye of the Fish, and the harbour is the Mouth, so yes, why not accept that the gorge of Ngauranga is going to have a giant fish hook gashed in its gilltrap. Traditionally that fish-hook was off the east cape in Hawkes Bay, but hey, myths are always flexible.

hook-of-the-fish.jpg

I like it – and what a stunning location – the drive down the gorge is fantastic already with the splendid harbour view opening up before you as your mighty motor redlines and you jockey for position amongst the wildly revving Huttites for the final stretch in your autowaka back to your humble beachside whare.

Yet, while I like it a lot (and have been waiting a long time for this: the nose of the Fish had long ago sniffed out that there was a ‘grand idea’ archway in the offing) I’m dismayed at only one thing. Going into a mega-recession, with the cliff-edge we’re all due to fall off looming ever closer, the timing is abysmal and the outcry may be loud – although perhaps they’ve waited till now to cheer us up for Christmas. Still:

The Hook of Maui project has the support of local iwi, including the Wellington Tenths Trust and Ngati Kahungunu. Wellington City Council has contributed $666,000 toward the gateway sculpture project since it was first suggested more than five years ago. The rest of the money has come from private donations. Te Matau a Maui features a 35-metre tower embedded on the harbour side of the motorway above the Hutt Valley railway tunnel between Ngauranga and Kaiwharawhara and a 14-metre hook coming out of the other side of the road. A laser would pierce the night sky from the top of the shaft to symbolise a fishing line.  

And not only that – it’s got impecable designer credentials – no less than Taika Waititi, Megan Wraight, and Claude Hibder. Hibder (about whom I can find no information on) is a lighting and installation artist, and obviously also had input into the other part of the project as well: the shimmering waters flowing off the land into the surrounds of the Terrace Tunnel. Well done Kerry, and well done design team – we’re looking forward to it.

running-water.jpg

Update: We’ve had a disk packed full of images sent to us by the ever helpful Mr MacLean of the WCC – and so we’re including a couple of extra images for you, of the hook by day….. 

maui-by-day.jpg

….. and by night. 

maui-by-night.jpg 

Philip
7 - 12 - 08

A Lisa Black (presumably of lisablackcreations.com) informs us:

“This is actually a Wellington Sculpture Trust project, rather than a WCC one. Though I can see why one would think otherwise from the newspaper article.”

Maximus
7 - 12 - 08

My apologies for not crediting the Wellington Sculpture Trust. I did check their website, but there was nothing there except for the Regan Gentry new sculpture “Subject to Change” (by the bypass), and so concluded that perhaps there had been no involvement from the Sculpture Trust.

http://www.sculpture.org.nz/engine/SID/10005.htm

I’m sure they’ll get their website updated now that the Dompost has leaked the news out. That must be really quite annoying…. but then again, they have had 5 years to prepare a news release, so perhaps I can be forgiven….

richard maclean
8 - 12 - 08

Maximus I can flick you a disk with all the images if you’re interested. As per usual, they’re huge. Just say the word.

Maximus
8 - 12 - 08

that would be great, thanks.

richard maclean
8 - 12 - 08

yoiks – what’s your mail address again? (gimme a call on 801 3578 or email me…)

erentz
8 - 12 - 08

I like the idea. Beats Melbourne’s spike.

Robyn
8 - 12 - 08

The hook is rad! But is it wrong for me to fantasize about pulling the hook and ripping up the motorway. (Not that I have anything against the motorway, particularly that part of it…)

I reckon the hook component would pass the munter public art test, i.e. “What’s that supposed to be, then? Just looks like a giant blimmin’ [THING] to me!”. So then the more obvious hook would lead into the more abstract LED displays on the motorway walls.

I’m quite excited about the lights. As well as looking rool pretty, they also seem like a good way of adding something artistic to the concrete motorway walls without resorting to a dreaded mural.

By the way, the reason why Claude Hibder isn’t googleable is because his name is Claude Hidber, who is very googleable. How awful for his name to have been spelt wrong on the press release!

M-D
8 - 12 - 08

I’m not so convinced, but that may change with more representative images. In particular, the fishing line pictured is going to where exactly? Also, the hook doesn’t celebrate one of the most important parts of the narrative – in that it was carved from an ancestor’s jawbone – this is no bone hook…

I really like the concept, but as articulated in the above image, looks rather like the pathetic as a mythological hook (size aside). There are hundreds of fantastic fish-hook inspired designs (particularly necklaces) that outclass this (most of which at least include the barb)…

What’s more, it needs to be seen from the motorists’point of view – from which I suspect will just look like a couple of large and rather odd poles – the barb might help facilitate recognition, especially in the absence of a fishing line…

And where is the blood from Maui’s nose, which he applied to the hook as bait (or is that getting a little too literal?)

Kaihuia
8 - 12 - 08

OK, somebody has to be the dog in the manger (it’s Christmas after all) …

First, I’m not sure it works. When I saw the image in the paper, I wasn’t immediately sure what I was looking at: I had to read the story to know it was a hook. I don’t think it’s obvious, and I suspect that for a great many people it will be merely baffling.

Secondly, and more importantly, the Mayor championing this (Sculpture Trust or no, it’s well over half a mill of council money and counting) is the same Mayor who recently told the Dominion Post that she aims to cut $3 million off the council’s spending every year for the next decade to keep rates in line with inflation, which means “no more absolutely positively spending, only absolutely necessary spending”. She wouldn’t say where the cuts would come, according to the Dom, “predicting only that new community halls, new swimming pools, new traffic lights and roundabouts are most likely to be sacrificed”.

So … much and all as I like civic art, I’m afraid Maximus is right about the (bad) timing. Community halls and neighbourhood swimming pools make people’s lives better, every day. Giant dayglo fibreglass fishhooks don’t. If this council was getting more of the basics right – like public spaces, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, libraries and pools – I’d say great, decorate the motorway. But in the meantime I resent hundreds of thousands of dollars being laid out on this trophy project just so Prendergast can prattle on about what a ‘creative capital’ we are.

M-D
8 - 12 - 08

You mean it really is supposed to be a day-glo fibreglass type thingy – I just thought it was an appallingly bad ‘interpretive’ render… Ugh…

“If this council was getting more of the basics right – like public spaces, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, libraries and pools – I’d say great, decorate the motorway. But in the meantime I resent hundreds of thousands of dollars being laid out on this trophy project just so Prendergast can prattle on about what a ‘creative capital’ we are.”

Hear hear!

Maximus
8 - 12 - 08

“High Quality” renders hopefully arriving here in a day or two.

I like M-D’s references to the jawbone – it was Maui’s grandmother i believe, and so she was a God (or Goddess if you like that nomenclature) – I’m not sure if she was still alive (but evidently, without a jawbone, she’d have been pretty damn quiet and hungry!) – and the blood was from Maui’s nose. Such are the detailed chronologies of mythdom. So i’m thinking not a s/s spike or a fibreglass rod, but instead a giant bone carving, and some realistic blood (preferably not from daily autowaka crashes into the base of the spike as the concentration wavers….)

erentz
8 - 12 - 08

Perhaps get the govt to pay for it as part of “landscaping” when it widens that section of motorway to 8 lanes (as planned).

Blood on the hook is a must. Perhaps a big wriggling worm (or nasal hair).

But seriously, the blood could be done, could be a kind of fountain of red stuff running down the barb/hook, caught at some various points, and recycled. Would definitely be unique.

Rob
9 - 12 - 08

That is brilliant! I hope it does get built. I love big public art.

Amy
11 - 12 - 08

Hi everyone, if you’re after more information you can find it on our website now, apologies for the delay.
Kind regards, Amy, Administrator, Wellington Sculpture Trust. http://www.sculpture.org.nz

Maximus
11 - 12 - 08

Thanks Amy. Couldn’t find any images on your website yet – so have updated this site with a couple to get you going.

Jan
12 - 12 - 08

Hmmm… I think the sight of this beautiful city you see when you come out of the gorge is stunning enough as it is. I sorta like the design, but I agree, the timing could hardly be worse. By the way, it immediately reminded me of this (“do you know who else liked big pointy sculptures?”):

http://timesonline.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2007/07/08/crossed_swords.jpg

M-D
12 - 12 - 08

Is the laser beam going to be visible by day? or is it more of a hooked by night, escape (with hook still embedded) by day type of fishing expedition?

And what would Mr Bollard have to say…?

M-D
12 - 12 - 08

…and if the laser beam is not visible by day (can I be forgiven for doubting artists’ impressions?), will not those two poles look rather meaningless:

Put your thumb over the ‘line’ on the day illustration – without touching your screen of course – and, forgetting what you ‘know’, tell me what you ‘see’…

Kaihuia
12 - 12 - 08

I’m afraid the extra images just confirm for me that the effect at ground level is going to be more mystifying than striking. But a barb would definitely help with legibility – nothing says ‘hook’ more clearly than a barb.

Jan
12 - 12 - 08

About that laser beam… Would somebody please think of the airline pilots?

Seriously though, it’s a bit disappointing to see yet another public installation polluting the night skies with a beam of light shining upwards. Astronomers and other creatures of the (dark) night will not be amused.

M-D
12 - 12 - 08

I’m pretty sure it won’t be one of those beams that can slice a plane in two as it flies over it… is it…?

rondo
12 - 12 - 08

I’ve discovered the origin of the laser mechanism here:
http://nz.youtube.com/watch?v=U1TmeBd9338

oscar tunnicliff
16 - 01 - 09

I don’t mean to speak badly of any elected official or any group focused of public identity. However, when you general venture into any product or performance (such as public art) first and foremost it is important to maintain a cohesive outlook on the project. Not to criticise the artist, of course, as I’m sure they know what they’re doing. It’s just I read the council brief for what they wanted, two points; firstly something which is permanent and long lasting (how permanent doesn’t imply long lasting is anyone’s guess), Secondly they want to be contemporary. Sure a better brief would have been something which didn’t contradict its self? Say, 1, permanent and 2, classic or built with respect to the first fact. An understanding that public art effects public mood would be prudent, what will happen when in a year driving into the city approaching on one of the only “nice” city views in the country one decides (for whatever reason) that looking at a 32m neon tube isn’t, oh i don’t know, pretty.

Maximus
16 - 01 - 09

So what you’re saying is…. its not pretty, and we’re going to get bored looking at it? Fair commentary, and for that we’ll just have to wait and see how good the artists are. 100 years ago the statue of Queen Victoria was thought to be the best thing ever, then it went through a long period of Yawn. I can’t honestly see this lasting a 100 years, and the neon I’d give 2 years max before it craps out – but it will depend on the council’s attitude and public support or not as to whether they would keep spending the money to scaffold it and rework the neon every few years to keep it going. Maybe the public will come to love it.

oscar tunnicliff
16 - 01 - 09

No, sorry maybe it was the typos. that wasnt what i was really saying. what i was saying is that the brief requests something timeless and yet of this time, and that considering this is a monument it seems strange that more tohught wasn’t put in to what the effect might be on those people who live with it; stabbed under thier motor way. then again the bucket founton was ment to be a temporary peice as well, thought to be ugly but interesting in its time, now much loved.

Seamonkey Madness
23 - 09 - 09

FAIL.

Robyn
4 - 01 - 10

The hook is rad! But is it wrong for me to fantasize about pulling the hook and ripping up the motorway. (Not that I have anything against the motorway, particularly that part of it…)

I reckon the hook component would pass the munter public art test, i.e. “What's that supposed to be, then? Just looks like a giant blimmin' [THING] to me!”. So then the more obvious hook would lead into the more abstract LED displays on the motorway walls.

I'm quite excited about the lights. As well as looking rool pretty, they also seem like a good way of adding something artistic to the concrete motorway walls without resorting to a dreaded mural.

By the way, the reason why Claude Hibder isn't googleable is because his name is Claude Hidber, who is very googleable. How awful for his name to have been spelt wrong on the press release!