Wecome home Echo!

'Echo' by Neil Dawson at The Arts Centre


Neil Dawson’s sculpture Echo rises again 


This week Te Matatiki Toi Ora The Arts Centre celebrates the return of Neil Dawson's beautiful sculpture Echo to the North Quad. 


Widely renowned local sculptor Neil Dawson created the original Echo in 1981. Although intended as a temporary installation it quickly became a firm local favourite. It lasted for 9 months before it was accidentally damaged and subsequently removed. Due to its popularity, it was rebuilt and permanently installed in 1991. Then, Mother Nature took her turn and destroyed it in the 2011 Canterbury earthquake. 


Echo was the result of an honoured promise to former Art Centre Director Brett Riley where Neil agreed to create a bespoke piece for the centre. Specifically designed for that space and inspired by its surrounding, the work 'echoes' The Arts Centre's Gothic Revival architecture. Neil spent time as custodian for the centre, so he knew the buildings and those who worked in them very well. 


He chose to create a piece that relies on traditional perspective drawing, which enables the form of work to change as viewers move beneath it. Depending on the viewer’s position, it can look like a series of lines or a solid object. The carbon fibre tubular structure is 3 metres high and suspended by thin stainless-steel wires 6 metres above the centre of the North Quad. 


Neil calls Echo a “sky drawing”. Its playful nature is designed to be unexpected and stop people from walking with their heads down and to make them look at the sky. 


“I am thrilled that Echo has lived up to its name once again and bounced back. As my first public sculpture I am amazed at how the public have embraced the work even when it wasn’t there.” says Neil Dawson. 


Arts Centre Director, Philip Aldridge says “We are honoured to once again raise Echo back into its rightful place and showcase this much-loved taonga. Neil has once again lifted our spirits. We would also like to acknowledge the generousity shown by Lady Barbara Stewart who supported us in bringing this artwork back to life.” 


The Central Art Gallery is collaborating with Neil, giving the public the opportunity to purchase a maquette of Echo. Please send any enquires to art@thecentral.co.nz.


Press release written by Te Matatiki Toi Ora The Arts Centre.

December 7, 2021