Another Kon Dimopoulos disaster, this time from NZ, is breaking news: a wealthy New Zealander, Michael Hill, who dreamed of having a sculpture park in his backyard that could be seen from the moon (yes, he said “moon” but I think he meant ‘space’), has packed his AU$120,000 Dimopoulosiana into the shed, thrown up his hands, and his dreams with them. Hill shouldn’t despair: Kon has other sculptures, indistinguishable from Hill’s backyard job, still set up in NZ and Australia. And, besides, I’ve heard the audience for ‘art’ that can be seen from the moon… let’s just say he’s not going to be getting many letters of complaint about the cancellation of the gig.
Hill removes art after council indecision
14 March 2006
Jewellery store king Michael Hill says frustration with Queenstown Lakes District Council led him to remove a giant work of art from his garden.
He told NZPA if he ran his business the way the council’s resource management division department ran its decision-making process, “we’d just be gone”.
Mr Hill erected a five-metre-high $120,000 Kon Dimopoulos reed sculpture on his land around a year ago.
New Zealand artist Dimopoulos is most well-known for a Pacific Grass sculpture located on the roundabout at the northern end of the Wellington Airport runway.
Mr Hill said the artist took a “great deal of care” with the sculpture’s placement, taking into consideration “the area, the environment and the mountains must not be competed with”.
He said he had also planted fir trees to eventually hide it from the nearest road.
Problems started, however, when he asked the council for resource management permission.
“I really wish I hadn’t,” he said.
“The Resource Management Act doesn’t have separate clauses for art, so the council had to view the sculpture as a house. In the end, it took so long to hear from them I put it up anyhow.”
Since then, he said he has been working with the council for consent, but has been left constantly frustrated.
“People in these positions are frightened to make decisions outside of the square of the Resource Management Act,” he said.
“It just needed someone to say: put it up, take it down, anything! Any decision is better than no decision,” he said, sighing.
“And that’s why I pulled it down as you can’t carry on anguishing.”
The sculpture, which now sits stacked in Mr Hill’s workshop, was just one of many he had planned for the area.
“I wanted to have a sculpture competition here, but I won’t be able to do that now,” he said.
“The valley is going to be lacking a significant supporter. These works of art are not cheap. I was going to put up over a million dollars – the council and most of the community can’t afford them, and here was the perfect opportunity.”
Eventually, Mr Hill said he wanted to emulate amphibious craft entrepreneur Alan Gibbs’ sculpture park in Kaipara, Auckland.
“Art that you can see from the moon … it’s unbelievable … I would have liked to have done something similar here,” he said.