When I first moved here I recall being thrilled, on one of my exploratory wanders through Timaru, to discover a Llew Summers sculpture sitting happily among the trees in the center of town. For me it immediately lifted my perceptions of the city I’d moved to and the feeling of being somewhere that cared enough to invest in quality art for nothing more than its residents to enjoy. I have been thinking about her again with the recent debates raging in Christchurch over spending public monies on sculpture and the long term value to the community.
Timaru’s council controversially commissioned the work back in 1981. The now famous sculptor, Llew Summers, began his career nearly 40 years ago, and has gone on to have his works exhibited all over the globe. Did you know that one of his first major works was our own Tranquility – better known to most Timaruvians as the lady outside the Library. Llew still remembers the heated reaction it inspired, somewhat akin to the debates in Chch. He recalls "There were heaps of comments about it, and about 20 or more people wrote letters to the Timaru Herald, but I seem to remember about nine of those letters were in favour, which was nice," he also said "People are quicker to criticise than compliment. I always prefer to have some response than none at all. All art should challenge to some degree. The work was a major turning point for me."
Have a good look next time you go past, in a world that often feels like it’s going crazy she really does exude tranquility. Resting quietly there as the trees grow up around her she lives up to her name and somehow imparts a similar feeling in the viewer. Personally I can only thank the farsightedness of that council in investing in something that adds to the presence of our city for generations to come.
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