16 Jun 2016

You've got to hand it to Christchurch...

2:51 pm on 16 June 2016

It's crafty and clever and a bit creepy- Christchurch Art Gallery's newest addition is a giant hand with a grim face that peers down at the city below.

The hand and face are based on the artist Ronnie van Hout's own, but now belong to the gallery's growing collection of outdoor installations.

Ronnie van Hout's sculpture Quasi is five-metres tall, made of steel, polystyrene and painted resin.

Ronnie van Hout's Quasi is 5m tall and made of steel, polystyrene and painted resin. Photo: SUPPLIED/ Christchurch Art Gallery

The internationally renowned artist created the 5m-tall sculpture which was unveiled today on the gallery's rooftop, towering above Gloucester Street and the arts precinct.

He told Afternoons he gave the sculpture its name because "I saw it on top of the building like the quasimodo character from The Hunchback of Notre Dame".

Mr van Hoult said a lot of thought had to go into figuring out how to make sure the sculpture could cope with its unusual home on top of a building.

"There was a lot of working out in terms of the structure of it," he said.

In the end the internal structure was made from steel before it was covered in polystyrene and painted resin.

The gallery's Outer Spaces programme naturally expanded after the devastating Canterbury quakes of 2011 forced it to temporarily close. It took its art works out of the gallery, installing pieces throughout the city.

The sculpture is based on the artist's own hand and facial features.

The sculpture is based on the artist's own hand and facial features. Photo: SUPPLIED/ Christchurch Art Gallery

Mr van Hout's Quasi is part of that programme, but sits on top of the gallery, now it has reopened.

Gallery director Jenny Harper said she hoped the sculpture would make people laugh, think and talk.

"Quasi's arrival means the gallery is now completely surrounded by art, facing outward to greet the city from all directions. It signals the energy and activity going on around us, and it's up there for everyone to enjoy."

The Christchurch-born artist uses a variety of media in his work, which has been exhibited and is in galleries throughout the world. He often refers to himself in his work, having once portrayed himself as a monkey that paints and a dog that sculpts.

Quasi will remain on top of the gallery until some time next year.