Doug Neil is a Christchurch based sculptor who originates from Seattle, Washington. Neil began his work carving abstract totemic and metamorphic designs from timber. After immigrating to Christchurch in 1990, he began large works in Oamaru Stone and since 1998 he has worked exclusively in marble, granite and volcano basalt often on a very large scale. His works reflect his inspiration in the varied Landscape formations of the South Island, our braided rivers, Punakaiki’s Pancake Rocks, canoe forms and dream forms. His megalithic installations are in well known gardens around New Zealand his smaller gallery art pieces are in private collections throughout the world.
This particular work, Great Rock of the Heartland, was created for the wonderful Heartland Sculpture Challenge 2009. Sculptors were given $1000 toward the cost of their sculpture, with the opportunity to win a people's choice award, decided by public vote through texting from the site, and the judges' art award. The Challenge saw nine sculptures places around South Canterbury at pre-selected sites and those that didn’t win major prizes were auctioned off at a special function at the Timaru District Council Chambers.
Our Doug Neil Sculpture was purchased as a result of the auction and donated to our city by the YMCA South Canterbury to commemorate their new premises. It sits at the corner of Butler and Arthur Streets next to a rather lovely weeping Elm tree. I am embarrassed to say I’ve driven past it numerous times and never really seen it properly, now that I know it’s there I see it all the time.