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The bull is back . . . on loan for now

One of the 1.8 tonne standing bronze bulls that captured the Christchurch public’s imagination last year and is the focus of Christchurch Art Gallery Trust’s Back the Bull campaign, has returned to the city – but is just on loan at present.

Michael Parekowhai Chapman's Homer 2011. Bronze, stainless steel. Courtesy of the artist and Michael Lett, Auckland.

Chapman’s Homer (pictured) has been brought back, courtesy of its creator internationally renowned New Zealand artist Michael Parekowhai, for the duration of the Christchurch Arts Festival which opened on Thursday last week.

It will remain in the city if a community campaign, being spearheaded by the Trust is successful. As part of the wider fundraising campaign, the Trust – in partnership with Westpac – is aiming to raise $200,000 by the end of September through crowd-funding site PledgeMe. This campaign is one of the main streams of funding being used to help with the purchase of the work of art that will become part of the city’s collection of nationally significant art.

It was precisely because of the community response to Parekowhai’s presentation last year that Gallery director Jenny Harper says she hopes it will stay here.

“This piece really seems to have struck a chord with people – there’s something about it that captures our resilience in this unique moment of our history. How wonderful to capture that and have it here for generations to be reminded and draw strength from. Being public art, it’s accessible to everyone, and it’s long lasting.

“The fact that people are reaching into their own pockets for the bull shows what it means to them; they will have a greater sense of ownership of it – ultimately this is for the people of Christchurch.”

“The artist enjoys his work bringing communities together and this certainly did. We are using PledgeMe to give this community a sense of ownership of the amazing sculpture.

She encourages all residents to visit the bull, which can be seen from now until 22 September next to the Fletcher Building Festival Club adjacent to the Christchurch Arts Centre on Worcester Boulevard.

“Last year the bull was shown against a backdrop of rubble in Madras Street. On this visit to Christchurch it is presented on one of our city’s most significant heritage sites that is being rebuilt and restored.

“Its presence reminds us all of the unshakeable strength we have shown as a city in recent times and just how far we have come.”

Christchurch Arts Festival is also supporting the cause with the Back the Bull campaign and will donate $1 of every ticket sold to any show at the Fletcher Building Festival Club from Saturday 24 August.

Trust chairman Mike Stenhouse is delighted the PledgeMe campaign to keep the bull in Christchurch has already raised a quarter of its funds – more than $70,000 in just over one week.

“If it weren’t for a strongly felt level of support from kids to grandparents as well as from our principal sponsor Westpac, the Gallery Trust wouldn’t be doing this. The response from the public has tremendous after the first week and we are sure the momentum will only grow as the Christchurch community re-connects with the bull now it is here on loan.”

When the PledgeMe campaign target of $200,000 is met, Westpac and the Trust will together match the public donations.

“The sale of Chapman’s Homer will be by private treaty, with funding spearheaded by the Trust that was formed in 1991 as a vehicle to raise and hold funds for acquisitions and to ensure Christchurch’s collection remains one of the foremost in New Zealand,” Mr Stenhouse says.

Money pledged through the public campaign will only be taken if the $200,000 target is reached. A great range of rewards is on offer depending on how much individuals and groups donate.

For more information or to make a ‘Back the Bull’ donation visit www.backthebull.co.nz or www.pledgeme.co.nz

Background information about the Christchurch Art Gallery building:

• Preliminary re-levelling work to relieve stress in the Christchurch Art Gallery building’s foundations has started this month.
• Soon the Council will be asking for expressions of interest locally and internationally to retrofit base isolation for the Gallery. This is the second stage of the repair project.
• Once base isolation is complete, the façade and interiors will then be repaired.
• It is anticipated that the Art Gallery will re-open in the latter half of 2015.


Updated on 23rd July 2015