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Artists needed for sculpture to take flight

29 October 2004

Artists needed for sculpture to take flight

Artists are invited to express interest in designing a sculpture for Mission Bay’s Selwyn Reserve to honour New Zealand’s pioneer aviators, the Walsh brothers.

Vivian and Leo Walsh designed and built the first flying boat in the Southern Hemisphere. This aircraft enabled the brothers to launch New Zealand’s first Flying School in October 1915, primarily to prepare young aviators for war duty in the Royal Flying Corps. The headquarters were originally established at Orakei and later on the foreshore at Mission Bay.

Auckland City is looking for three artists who will be paid $2,000 each to develop a concept design for the sculpture. One artist will be selected to then produce detailed drawings.

The winning sculpture will be inspired by the importance of the Walsh brothers’ work and reflect their innovative enterprise.

The Eastern Bays Community Board and Mission Bay/Kohimarama Residents’ Association initiated the project and the sculpture is likely to be installed in July 2005.

For a copy of the brief, contact the Arts Project Manager at Auckland City phone (09) 353 9603 or go to http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/whatson/arts/publicart/projects.asp Deadline for expressions of interest is Monday 29 November at 5pm.

Background about the Walsh brothers: Vivian and Leo Walsh were aviation pioneers. Their work helped lay the foundations for both military and civil aviation in New Zealand.

In 1911 they built their first plane from plans of a British Howard biplane. They spent five months building the aircraft at their Remuera home, with their sisters, Veronica and Doreen, machine sewing material for the wings.

On 5 February 1911 they launched the plane, named Manurewa No. 1. It flew to 60 feet and travelled 400 yards (just over 365 metres).

On New Year's Day 1915, the brothers launched their home-built flying boat at Bastion Point, the first to be built and launched in the Southern Hemisphere.

This same aircraft enabled the brothers to launch their New Zealand Flying School in October 1915, primarily to prepare young aviators for war duty in the Royal Flying Corps.

Students paid £200 to learn to fly. Though the school began with only three students, before long there were as many as 25 at any one time. More planes were purchased as student numbers increased.


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