Tree of Life uprooted for gnome new home

reflective lullaby gnome sculpture

Gnome alone: A huge 9-metre stainless steel gnome sculpture similar to the two above at the Christchurch Art Gallery in New Zealand will soon keep watch over Peninsula Link. The sculpture will replace the much-loved Tree of Life sculpture, far right, at the Cranbourne Rd exit of the freeway. Tree of Life pic: Gary Sissons

THE removal of the Tree of Life sculpture from the Cranbourne Rd exit of Peninsula Link has sparked a social media backlash.

Drivers, including many who do not usually regard themselves as art lovers, have gone out on a limb and expressed their love for the huge sculpture which has towered over the Cranbourne Rd exit section of the freeway for the past two years.

Passers-by noticed workmen pulling the Tree of Life down last week. Thousands took to Facebook to publicly declare their fondness for the sculpture.

The unusual looking sculpture was repeatedly described as “beautiful” and many are sad to see it go.

The Tree of Life, a dynamic wind-activated sculpture designed by New Zealand artist Phil Price, will be moved to the McClelland Gallery & Sculpture Park in Langwarrin for public display.

Former McClelland Gallery director Robert Lindsay is the consultant overseeing the relocation of the much-loved sculpture.

He said the Tree of Life should be installed within the gallery grounds on Wednesday (8 July) subject to wind conditions on the day.

“It will be at the gallery and people can come along and have a look at it along with the other 120 works on the grounds for free. It’s just around the corner.”

Mr Lindsay understood Peninsula Link commuters’ attachment to the Tree of Life sculpture but said a new sculpture will soon be installed at the Cranbourne Rd exit site.

McClelland has a contract with Southern Way, owners of Peninsula Link, to install new artworks along the freeway every two years.

A towering 9-metre stainless steel gnome sculpture called Reflective Lullaby, by Slovenia born artist Gregor Kregar, is scheduled to be installed on Thursday 16 July.

“It’ll be fantastic. I suppose the point is they [sculptures] alternate,” Mr Lindsay said. “Some people will fall in love with different ones over the whole program but they’re not disappearing from the area. They’ll just move around.”

Mr Kregar, who is based in New Zealand, told radio station 3AW his Reflective Lullaby sculpture had been selected by McClelland from several entries to replace the Tree of Life.

“It’s quite an exciting opportunity. I’m really looking forward to have a sculpture of that kind of scale and so on in Australia.”

He said he has been “interested in gnomes for quite a while” as mythical creatures rather than “Disneyesque” characters.

Mr Lindsay said the interest and debate around the Peninsula Link artworks is a positive for Frankston.

The freeway sculptures are commissioned and owned by McClelland, through funds donated by Southern Way.

The public-private partnership, The Southern Way McClelland Sculpture Commissions, will see 14 major sculptures displayed over 25 years until the year 2037.

First published in the Frankston Times – 6 July 2015

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