Second Antony Gormley sculpture unveiled in Christchurch

Second Antony Gormley sculpture unveiled in Christchurch

Christchurch will welcome a new permanent resident tomorrow, with a second sculpture by renowned British artist Sir Antony Gormley being unveiled at the Arts Centre.

It comes a year after the first sculpture was installed in the Avon River and completes the work called 'STAY'.

Sir Antony's central London studio is packed with his own statues - all are cast from the body of the man himself.

"I think sculpture has always tried to leave some trace of human life on a planet that we know was here before we came and will be here after we've gone," claimed Mr Gormley.

"It's not a memorial, it's not a statue in the traditional sense of the statue, so what is it?" he asks. "It, by its name, by its nature, invites you to linger longer, to stay a while."

Mr Gormley says he wanted to link nature, largely untouched by the quake, with a building, human-made and severely damaged.

"It was such a huge privilege to be asked to think about how art could contribute to the regeneration of Christchurch. I was lucky enough to visit several years ago so I feel I know it."

The work was personally subsidised but cost more than half a million dollars of public money, spent by a city that's still far from fixed.

Christchurch Public Art Director Deborah McCormick defended the expense, claiming: "I understand that frustration but this work is going to be here for 100 years, a life span of 100 years, and I think that's really good value."

Mr Gormley believes art plays a part not just in rebuilding a city, but the identity of a city: "Put simply art is the way that life expresses itself."

So from his legion of Gormleys in London to Christchurch, and a new, permanent pair for a new, more permanent city.