Driving into Timaru from the North it’s hard to miss our Phar Lap sculpture. An amazingly life like memorial to the famous Thoroughbred horse that was born at Seadown, near Timaru, on October 4th, 1926.
The sculptor, Joanne Sullivan Gessler, specialises in equine paintings and sculptures and was excited by the challenge of producing a bronze replica of the legendary race horse that was as close to the real thing as it was possible.
For months she studied the great horse by poring over photos and watching videos till she felt that she knew his physical form like no one other. She chose the pose as it showed his enormous power and huge stride which was one of the biggest of any race-horse of that time. Several months were spent in making a wax model of Phar Lap which also features Jim Pike, his usual jockey, in the saddle.
If you are curious to know how the piece was made then enter joannesullivan.studio into your website browser and click on her Bronze Casting Process there are some great shots of her creating Phar Lap.
The completed sculpture consists of 850kg of bronze and 200kg of stainless steel framework and this description of materials doesn’t convey the sensitivity and tremendous energy that the statue captures.
Unveiled on Nov 25th2009, it stands at the entrance to the Phar Lap Racecourse atop a marble plinth and fountain, around the base are plaques that tell the champion race-horse’s remarkable story and speak of all his great achievements.