Wal & Dog get a sunny new home

From this year, there will be another great reason to visit Gisborne. Two, in fact. Commissioned by the city’s Arts in Public Places Committee, Weta Workshop has brought the iconic stars from Footrot Flats, Wal and Dog, to life in bronze. Gazing up at his owner with adoring eyes and lolling tongue, Dog sits alongside Wal, who has his hands jammed casually into the pockets of his classic Kiwi stubbies, unsure what all the fuss is about.

Gisborne is the obvious place to house this detailed sculpture of the quintessential Kiwi farmer and his precocious pooch. It is the town that Footrot Flats creator Murray Ball, and his wife Pam, call home.

Back in Wellington, the sculpture was seven months in the making for the Weta Workshop crew. First, smaller 3D printed models were created, to see how Murray’s iconic graphic illustrations could best be translated into three dimensional characters. The models were then sculpted in plasticine at full size, before undergoing a complex moulding and lost wax bronze casting process. The bronze components were cast by Jonathan Campbell from Created and Cast Bronze, a longtime Workshop collaborator who has done most of Weta Workshop's bronze casting over the past 15 years.

Once the bronze components were cast, they were delivered back to the Workshop in fourteen pieces, into the hands of lead Mould Maker and Fabricator Bruce Campbell.  Bruce was tasked with welding and fettling the 300kg sculpture, before giving Wal and Dog their striking burnished bronze coats, a process called ‘patination.’

Weta Workshop CEO and Co-founder Richard Taylor was proud for his team to undertake this project.

“It was an absolute privilege for us to have the opportunity to immortalise such a well-loved pair of Kiwi icons. May they find an enduring home in sunny Gisborne.”

- Richard Taylor, CEO and Co-founder, Weta Workshop

So when and where can the public see these cherished characters? The pair’s permanent home, in front of the H.B. Williams Memorial Library, may not be ready until 2017, due to an extensive redevelopment. But fortunately, fans won’t have long to wait: all things going to plan, the sculpture will take up residence in temporary digs on the Gisborne riverbank in front of the Lawson Field Theatre, from January 2016.

Of course, no sculpture of Wal would be complete without his signature floppy hat. Next time you pass by, why not sneak a ‘cheeky’ peek under the brim?

Copyright 2017 Weta Workshop