Guy Ngan: Aotea Lagoon Rose Garden, 1979

Artist: Guy Ngan
Title: Untitled
Medium: Stainless steel
Dimensions: TBC
Date: 1979
Original location: Aotea Lagoon Rose Garden, Papakowhai Rd, Papakowhai, Porirua
Architect: n/a
Current location: In situ
Heritage status: TBC

Some limited information is attached to the sculpture that confirms the sculpture was “Made by Chubb Lock and Safe”. The logo for Rotary International is also included, suggesting they may have commissioned the sculpture.

Guy Ngan: Eastern Hutt Roundabout, 1976

Artist: Guy Ngan
Title: Untitled (Worms Mating)
Medium: Concrete, paint
Dimensions: H4000mm x W3600mm x D2700mm
Date: 1976
Original location: Eastern Hutt Rd Roundabout, Stokes Valley, Te Awakairangi Lower Hutt
Architect: n/a
Current location: In situ
Heritage status: Collection of Hutt City Council [Asset No. 40247.01]

Commissioned by the Stokes Valley Jaycees,  Ngan’s sculpture was constructed by Greg Ross in 1976. Originally untitled, Ngan told the Hutt News in 2011 “I thought if I gave it a name, that’s all that people would remember. I wanted them to remember the shape.” Ngan further explained that, years after the sculpture was completed, the daughter of the family doctor said “Uncle Guy, I saw your worms mating.” He loved the description, and it stuck.*

Originally rendered in bare concrete, the sculpture has now been painted white.

A second mating worms sculpture is located at Stokes Valley’s Scott Court shopping centre shops. Titled “Elevating Worms”, and rendered in stainless steel, Ngan was commissioned by the E Tu Awakairangi Public Art Trust to create it in 2011.

*Simon Edwards, “Twin sculpture to Stokes Valley’s mating worms launched,” The Hutt News, 13 Dec 2011.

Guy Ngan: Wellington Civic Centre, 1974

Artist: Guy Ngan
Title: Geometric Progression (also variously referred to as Geometric Growth and Geometric Progressions)
Medium: [Original] Concrete, stainless steel; [Remake] Sandblasted, zinc & powder-coated 8mm mild steel plate, stainless steel
Dimensions: H8500mm (W x L TBC)
Date: 1974
Original location: Civic Centre, Cnr Victoria & Mercer Sts, CBD, Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington
Architect: n/a
Current location: Removed in 1989 for the development of Civic Square and damaged in transit. Reconstructed and reinstalled at the Michael Fowler car park, Wakefield St, in 2006.
Heritage status: Wellington City Council Public Art Collection.

In 1969 seven sculptors were invited to submit proposals for a new sculpture for Wellington’s Civic Square. Guy Ngan won the competition, and Geometric Progression (also variously called Geometric Growth and Geometric Progressions) was commissioned by Wellington City Council with funding assistance from Mainline Contractors Pty Ltd (later Mainzeal). The sculpture was  constructed by Mainline Contractors and installed in 1974 at the intersection of Victoria and Mercer streets in the Wellington CBD.

In his proposal, Ngan stated that the title (then referred to as “Geometric Growth) implies “the application of geometry in compliance with natural laws. Visually, this echos the harmonious pattern of our houses, roadways and, more recently, our motorway, in the way these follow the natural formation of the land and water surfaces of our City.  There are of course, many other ways this work and its title can be interpreted at various levels but at this stage, I prefer to leave these interpretations to the beholders.” The blocks pointing towards the sky were said to encourage aspirational thinking.

The original work was uprooted in two hours by two front-end loaders in 1989 to make way for the development of Civic Square (including new council buildings and the Wellington Central Library). This hasty uplift damaged the sculpture beyond repair. It languished in storage in the council’s Newtown Depot for some years until a Wellington City Council grant of $40,000 was used to recreate the sculpture, with Ngan’s involvement.

In 2006 the City Council arranged to have the work reconstructed, replacing the original concrete base with 8mm steel plate. It was unveiled by Mayor Kerry Prendergast in December 2006 in its current position next to to the Michael Fowler car park on Wakefield Street.

Guy Ngan: Wellington Teachers’ Training College, 1971

Artist: Guy Ngan
Title: Acorn for Education
Medium: Cast bronze set on a concrete plinth
Dimensions: H2400mm x W2200mm x L635mm
Date: 1971
Original location: Wellington Teachers’ Training College, 26-40 Donald St, Karori, Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington
Architect: Stanley William (Bill) Toomath, Toomath & Wilson Architects
Current location: Relocated to rear of Cotton Building (North End),  Victoria University of Wellington Kelburn Campus in 2019
Heritage status: Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection, formerly Wellington College of Education Art Collection, accessioned 2009 [VUWCE.2009.92]

Cast by the Turner and Evans Foundry in Newtown in 1971, Acorn for Education was installed on-site in the main quad of the Wellington Teacher’s Training College Karori campus the following year.

Created using the lost polystyrene process where the polystyrene (positive) forms the design mould (negative) and is burnt away by the molten bronze during casting, the sculpture was ground and finished by hand before being assembled onsite. The finished sculpture consists of several bronze sections bolted together, set on a concrete plinth.

Guy was not paid for his design or work but agreed to do the project if the casting costs were covered. The casting and installation costs were funded through donations from people associated with the College, with the Students’ Association donating funds for the concrete base in honour of the College’s recently deceased Vice-Principal, Keith Fox. Inspired by the College’s motto, Lateat scintillula forsam (perhaps a small spark lies hidden here), it was said that the sculpture depicts ‘the roots [of the acorn, which] have tremendous grip on the ground and the shoots are bursting forth, pushing away the husks as the growth expands inside’.*

In 1988 the Wellington Teachers’ Training College changed its name to “Wellington College of Education, which then merged with Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) in 2005. Between 2014-16 the Karori campus was formally transferred to VUW, including its collection of art, with staff and students vacating the site and moving to the VUW Kelburn campus. In 2018 the site’s new owners, Ryman Healthcare, moved to demolish the campus. Acorn was uplifted from its original site by VUW, eventually undergoing cleaning and restoration work before being unveiled at its new site in December 2018.

Ngan also had a smaller maquette cast for his Stokes Valley garden.

* ‘College sculpture symbolises creative imagination in education’, National Education, p.295. ‘Cover caption’, National Education, vol.54, no.588, Jul 1972, p.242.

Thanks to Liz Ngan for her contribution to this text.

Guy Ngan: Teal Park, 1971

Artist: Guy Ngan
Title: Teal Park Rocks
Medium: Basalt blocks
Dimensions: TBC
Date: 1971
Original location: Teal Park, Tamaki Drive, Mechanics Bay/Judges Bay, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland
Architect: n/a
Current location: In situ
Heritage status: Listed by Auckland Council

Named after Air New Zealand’s predecessor, Tasman Empire Airways Ltd, Teal Park was established to commemorate Air New Zealand’s 30th Anniversary.

The park was developed as joint venture between the Harbour Board and Air New Zealand, with the Harbour Board providing the land and rock for the sculpture, and Air New Zealand commissioning Guy Ngan to design the park’s layout.

Referred to by Ngan as a “stone sculpture garden”, the assembly of the blocks was overseen by Harbour Board design engineer Mr Colin Pask who worked from a model provided by Ngan. The basalt rock sculpture is made from stone that was once part of the old Graving Dock that stood at the bottom of Albert and Hobson Sts.

Teal park was officially opened in May 1971. The sculpture was originally twice as tall (15ft high), however it was deemed a health and safety issue, so the height had to be reduced.

A plaque, which has been attached to the sculpture since the park opened, states:

The name of this park and the basalt blocks used in the central feature are both linked with the history of Auckland
On 1st April 1940 Tasman Empire Airways Limited now Air New Zealand pioneered the first commercial Trans Tasman Air Service from Mechanics Bay some 300 yards West of this site
The Basalt Blocks were originally built into the Auckland Dock in 1878 between what are now Hobson and Albert Streets later these blocks became part of the Eastern tide wall
When the seabed in this locality was reclaimed for the container terminal in 1968 the blocks were recovered and now stand as a tangible link with the history of the Port of Auckland

This park is provided by the Auckland Harbour Board the design of the feature was sponsored by Air New Zealand to commemorate their 30th Anniversary