Golfers might find it a hazard but mega-jeweller Sir Michael Hill’s in awe of the latest sculptural masterpiece on his Arrowtown golf course.
Renowned English sculptor Sean Henry last Sunday positioned his three metre-high painted bronze, The Seated Figure, above The Hills’ first hole.
“I think this sculptor is fabulous,” Hill says.
“He likes to place his work somewhere where there’s a bit of time between you seeing it and getting to it.”
Hill says after local pro Ben Campbell played the hole on Monday, “he said it looked terrific from the tee, but it mucked all the perspective up for everyone”.
“What I particularly like is the way the colours just blend so beautifully into the landscape.”
Five months ago, Henry installed a near-identical artwork on the North York Moors in England, where the old man also contemplates a stunning view.
A kilometre from the road, it’s become a tourist drawcard but also drawn fire on social media.
One critic says it’s “another example of the despoliation of the natural beauty of the countryside by the ‘arty farty’ brigade”.
Some commentators have likened the old man to British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Henry, however, says it’s anonymous, like almost all his figures.
“At the end of the day, art is the expression of the imagination.”
Whether his figures’s happy in his thoughts, or melancholic, depends on your mindset, Henry says.
His three-legged travelling stool, however, is based on one used by his grandfather.
He explains his preference for over-size characters, saying “it’s a bit creepy if you cast a [life-size] head and hold it in your hands”.
Henry had the sculpture cast in bronze in Italy, trucked back to England, and then shipped to Dunedin.
The Seated Figure follows in the footsteps of Hill’s other major sculptural pieces, like a Chinese warrior with a pack of 110 wolves and five prancing horses.
Hill, who’s not aware of any other golf courses doubling as sculpture parks, says Henry told him he feels privileged to put his art on such a beautiful property.
In turn, Hill says he feels privileged to be a custodian of it.
“We could have 1000 houses in here, if we liked, but I’m leaving this lovely green area as a legacy.”
He’s already commissioned another sculpture, he reveals.
“I’m not telling you about it, but it’s an NZ artist and it’s quite outside the box.”