Lyn Kamo remembers her daughter Sue at statue ‘Grace’ in Masterton. PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER

HAYLEY GASTMEIER
hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz

A large statue of an angel which is on trial at a Masterton park is bringing a sense of closure to people who have lost loved ones, the artist says.

Elaine Hurndell spent $15,000 making the sculpture, dubbed ‘Grace’, with the intention of placing it in a private, public space, where people could go to grieve.

In mid-December, Masterton councillors were surprised to find the nine-foot angel standing in Robinson Park, near the town’s northern roundabout.

Masterton Deputy Mayor Graham McClymont was behind the placement, which he earlier said was a two-week trial to gauge the public’s reaction.

He confirmed the decision had not been run past the council.

Lyn Kamo visited Grace yesterday morning to pay tribute to her daughter, Sue, who she lost five years ago to suicide.

“When you’re grieving it’s really nice to be able to come and sit and light a candle in remembrance, and just sit back and reflect somewhere quiet.”

Ms Kamo said the statue was beautiful and unique, and would help those in mourning find closure.

It took Ms Hurndell two years to complete the sculpture, which she moulded from her daughter, Montana, who works for the Department of Conservation.

She said she built the larger than life model to raise awareness about suicide and bullying.

And had been inspired, having made a number of headstones for young people who died tragically.

Ms Hurndell said Grace was proving popular, with dozens of people gathering around it on both Christmas eve and New Year’s eve.

“People lit candles for lost loved ones and everybody leaned on each other as a community, which is exactly what it’s supposed to be all about.”

The trial location of the statue ticked all the boxes, she said.

There was wheelchair access, it was next to a peaceful stream, there was lots of parking, and it was relatively private.

Ms Hurndell said “one in 100” people indicated they did not favour the angel.

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said she there was strong community support to keep the statue.

“I popped down there on Christmas eve and the angel did look great.

“There were a lot of people there and I have been overwhelmed by the amount of positive comments about it.”

She said the council would be discussing the topic at its next full meeting.

“We’ll bring it through council and see where we go with it.”

Late last year, council infrastructural services committee chairman Gary Caffell said he was miffed councillors had not been consulted about the trial.

Despite this, he thought the angel was “attractive”, and Churchill Park in Solway would be an appropriate location.

An online petition in support of making Grace a permanent fixture in a public space has so far collected almost 500 signatures.