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Waterfront sculpture celebrates anniversary with mini-replicas

Press Release – Elephant Publicity
Solace in the Wind, the iconic landmark on Wellington’s waterfront, is arguably New Zealand’s best-loved public art work. Artist Max Patté celebrates the sculpture that launched his ground-breaking art to NZ and the world back in 2008, with a limited edition of 60cm replicas, each with their own unique patina, standing on an especially procured piece of Wellington Wharf beam.

Sculptures will go on sale 13 February, 10 years to the day that Solace in the Wind was unveiled.

Solace in the Wind was originally installed as a temporary loan to the city but was purchased by the city council after winning as People’s Choice for favourite sculpture at the Wellington Civic Trust Awards. This incredible work captured the imagination of both the people and the media, featuring in prominent publications including the Lonely Planet.

The local and international acclaim garnered from this multi-award-winning sculpture launched the career of Max Patté who now works full-time from his own studio in Miramar.

The British born artist has had his work exhibited throughout New Zealand, London and Europe. His work is collected by high-profile patrons, including Sir Ian McKellen, Stephen Fry, and Charles Saatchi as well as New Zealand private collectors. Max’s works are installed at Sir Michael Hill’s golf course and sculpture park in the South Island.

Rewind ten years to the major undertaking that was the creation of Solace in the Wind. At the time Max was working for Sir Richard Taylor at Weta Workshop who kindly provided the studio space needed to create the full-size sculpture. Max personally funded the full cost of all the materials, and at this initial stage the Wellington City Council granted permission for a 12-month public installation of the work. During the incredibly labour-intensive process of angle-grinding Max was rushed to A&E to have three nurses and one doctor pick 24 iron particles from his eyes. Being three days before the unveiling Max had no time for recovery and despite limited vision, had to push on with protective goggles and long hours to make the unveiling date of 13 February 2008.

A short three days after the unveiling the sculpture was vandalized by two revelers visiting the city for a sailing regatta. The work had to be de-installed and repaired and was graciously paid for by the legal firm Phillips Fox (now DLA Phillips Fox) whose team loved looking out over the new work and its position on the waterfront. This was a sign of things to come as shortly after this, Wellington City Council offered to buy the work … and the rest is history.

The new anniversary edition maquette is a 3D digital scan and 1/3 scale exact replica of the full-size original installed on Wellington’s Waterfront. It is produced as a cast-iron 60cm sculpture, cast by Supreme Metals in Auckland. The maquette stands on a genuine piece of old Wellington Wharf beam which the artist tracked down and purchased especially for this anniversary edition maquette. Each edition is in its own way unique. No two works will ever display the same patina or stand on the same section of old Wharf Beam. There is a limited edition of fifty. Sculptures go on sale 13 February. Pre-orders are now available.

Artist Statement
Through discussion, and with the generous support of Richard Taylor at Weta Workshop, I have instigated this sculpture that I believe would further enrich the thriving and vibrant culture of Wellington’s art world whilst encouraging calm contemplation and reflection in a dynamic city.

It is a piece personal to me both in terms of its subject matter and its chosen site. This particular spot on Wellington’s harbour front is the place where I have come to sit and lose myself in thought and find solace through a year of distress and sadness. It is the spot where a large part of my soul has been healed and my heart has wept. It is here, alone, in ‘my place’ in what has become my city, with my face in the wind and back to the world that I have felt a sense of relief, comfort and homeliness. Free to let my tears roll unnoticed and new dreams form. Feeling the wind, the rain and the sun nurse my flesh and breath a new life into my body, cleansing my soul and washing away the pain of lost life and lost love.

The figure is not only an expression of this pain but evokes this desire to be alone with your thoughts. Lonely, naked and vulnerable its physicality reflects the psychological state that each of us experience at some time in our lives. Yet the expression on the face is deliberately ambiguous. Does he have his eyes closed in anguish or has he found calm? Retaining a classical sense of strength and control he leans almost precariously into the wind over the water’s edge. It captures that moment before letting go, both physically and emotionally.

The edge of the sea offers a sense of serenity – where the world opens up and we surrender ourselves to the elements. Here we are able to find a place that offers peace and clarity, a place to reevaluate life and find inspiration. At this spot, in these moments the world is literally at our feet. Our choices are open. The possibilities that life offers to each of us seem limitless. All we have to do is surrender ourselves to them, as the sculpture suggests, with the fall of the arms and tilt of the open palm.

With its arched back against a backdrop of glistening water the strong but graceful silhouette mimics the shape of a sail on a passing yacht or figurehead on an old ship. Its textured and corroded skin is intended to complement these ships and industrial nature of its setting. Steel, concrete, wood and iron, collectively an almost constantly evolving work with newly emerging patterns and colourations. It is as if the piece has a life of its own the physical effects of the elements becoming increasingly evident on the surface of the work with age. It is as if nature itself is lending a hand by creating its own art, doing the painting for us. Natural striations, colours and patterns that only nature can create over time.

Patterns of nature that leave a history of scars over which we have no control. Much the same way nature rules mercilessly over all our lives and loves.

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