Refugee from a confectioner’s nightmare

I’ve always loved the Peacock Fountain since it was reinstalled beside the Canterbury Museum in the Botanic Gardens in 1996. It has all of what was ostentatious and silly about the early 20th century. Its frolicking dolphins, pelicans and other animals together with a colour scheme that was so wondrous, caused a ratepayer in The Press letters to the editor to blame it for ‘causing flu-like symptoms when looked upon’ . This blog’s title was a comment from another disgruntled ratepayer when it was installed.

The fountain was made in Shropshire and imported from England, funded by a 1000 pound bequest from the Hon. John Peacock, a local pioneer, business man and polititian. It was unveiled in June 1911 in the Botanic Gardens adjacent to where the Robert McDougall Art Gallery was later built.

It was dismantled and put into storage in 1949 because of recurring maintenance issues and it eventually ended up in storage at Ferrymead. When restoration began in 1995, half of the pieces had to be re-cast as many had disapeared or been damaged.

I remember its reinstallation causing much division of opinion around the city, especially the colour scheme, but as with all public art, statues and installations, they can’t be loved by everyone, but they are usually loved by enough to become a integral part of our cityscape.

When I go to the gardens, I love seeing it there, delighting locals and visitors alike and also the local duck and bird populations, who splash about with abandon much like I would like to do in true La Dolce Vita style if I thought I could get away with it.

Do you have a favourite piece of sculpture or  art installation in our wonderful city? Is it a survivor of the quakes, or is awaiting a re-birth?

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