I was up in Auckland last week, for almost the first-time ever. I’ve been in NZ for over a decade, but other than my first three days in NZ and one business trip, I’ve never spent any time in Auckland.
So it was wonderful to spend a little time, explore the city, and get shown around the museums by someone who really knows the art scene (Oh, and we went to a Bruce Springsteen concert, which was amazing, and means I can cross that off my ‘if I ever remotely get the chance to do X’ list).
In addition to the biggies, like the Auckland War Memorial Museum, and the Auckland Art Gallery, I spend a lovely hour just exploring Albert Park, which the AAG is set in. In doing so, I came across this statue:
OK, late Victorian, early Edwarian in style, little girl on a pedestal, what’s it for?
Hmmm…a memorial to G.M Reed, BA – a journalist. OK.
Let’s take a closer look at the statue:
OK, so we’ve got a little girl in a funny hat clutching…a bundle of cobwebs and a fish?
Yes, definitely a fish, so the cobwebs must be a net or seaweed?
And what the heck is she wearing?
It’s like a little ribbed knit onsie, or a bathing costume, with ruffles on round the hem and little bows fastening the side.
Plus, is she wearing a tam-o-shanter?
Let’s have a look around the back:
She’s technically not naked, but that’s not actually making it any better at all.
So what the heck is this statue about? Is there some reference here that I’m missing? Some story about a little girl who frolicked on beaches in her knickers and tam-o-shanter, clutching fish to her bosom and holding a net to hide her tum (seriously, scroll back up three pictures and check out that stomach – fabulous Victorian figure going on there!). What does it mean!
George M Reed was apparently part owner of the Auckland Star prior to the late 1870s, and then part owner of the Otago Times. He was once sued for the cost of a belltopper hat, burnt in a effigy burning demonstration (which is quite beside the point, but interesting nonetheless). For a journalist, he makes surprisingly few appearances in New Zealand newspapers. As a newspaper owner, having a statue is a bit impressive, but not too unusual.
But this statue. Well. It’s a bit unusual!
And as a bonus, here is a 1920s view of the park with the statue.