Anti Abortion Sculpture?

Guru jumps in where angels fear to tread

By Alan Tristram

Kapiti Coast Councillor K Gurunathan has leapt headfirst into the anti-abortion storm swirling around  the ‘Nurturing Hands’ sculpture outside the Paraparaumu Police Station.

He’s taking a purportedly  neutral pro-public art attitude – but in fact one that will probably favour the anti-abortion group Voice For Life – the cause of the present ruckus.

Kapiti Voice for Life (VFL) gathered in force at the site of the sculpture recently  to release anti-abortion balloons.

The event coincided with White Ribbon Week and Voice For Life president Brian Whitaker says it was a challenge to society on its selective concern about violence. The anti-abolition activist group promotes itself as a pro-life movement.

Sculptor and commissioning group upset

Interestingly, the sculptor, Bodhi Vincent, and the commissioning group, Voices Against Violence, are both aghast at the one-day takeover of the sculpture by the anti-abortion group.

But Cr Gurunathan takes a different view. Here’s his specially commissioned article:

When does a liberal become a fascist?

By K Gurunathan (Guru)

Can public art only have one social interpretation? When does a liberal become a fascist? These, I think, are some of the fascinating issues raised by what appears to be a tussle over the meaning of a sculpture erected outside the Kapiti Police Station.

The sculpture titled ‘Nurturing Hands’ was created by Bodhi Vincent and commissioned by Kapiti Voices Against Violence (VAV). It was funded by the Ministry of Social Development.  The sculpture depicts a hand holding a baby.


The abortion issue is an emotive and explosive one. Politicians, in particular, try never to go near it.

It’s understandable, therefore, that Voices Against Violence were horrified and, maybe, even incensed that ‘their sculpture’ was being hijacked. The group  has done sterling work raising community awareness about violence against women and children.

They have publicly stated that it was inappropriate for Voice For Life to adopt the sculpture.

Voices Against Violence was quoted in the Kapiti Observer saying that while it was OK for people to interpret the work of art …’it’s not something that’s available to take as a symbol’.

Artist Bodhi Vincent was quoted saying that the anti-abortion group did not commission the work so it was inappropriate for them to use it for a different purpose.

There are two dimensions at work. Firstly, is this sculpture, erected in a public place, a piece of public art? Secondly, is abortion a form of violence as claimed by Voice For Life?

My concern is with the issue of public art and the limited understanding of it by both Voices Against Violence and Bodhi Vincent.

Once you erect a piece of art, in this case a sculpture, in a public place, it becomes public art. It immediately gains a life of its own.

At times, the various public interpretations go beyond the intentions of the sponsors, funders and even the artist. This is the nature of the beast called public art and, often, this is what makes public art contentious.

Mr Whitaker has accused those who object to other groups adopting and using the sculpture as a symbol for their own interpretation, as displaying a fascist attitude. This is an interesting challenge to the liberal minds behind the Voices Against Violence.

‘There cannot be an intellectual property right’

The baby-in-the-hand image is an old and well used image and one that appeals to many. Therefore, there cannot be an intellectual property right claim over it.

It should be no surprise the pro-life movement also see the image as one that affirms the value of life. They have used that baby-in-the-hand image in their own campaigns.  In this sense both the groups share a common sentiment about the value of life.

What the issue has exposed is that Kapiti as a community has not had a decent debate about public art.

The doyens of culture, who have extolled the virtues of Kapiti as a creative community, have been sitting on their hands.

Kapiti Coast District Council, which has signaled the need of an arts policy and public arts policy for the last 10 years, has still done little about it.

It’s time there was such debate and it could be a good idea for the liberal voices which back Voices Against Violence to state their views of public art and the freedom of expression.

For the record I wish people would think before the embryo was created in the first place.
Copulate, but don’t populate.
Not having children will change nothing, except they will not be around to share all the ‘goodies’ we have to look forward to.
It is as if someone has torched the the local kindergarten and I am the only one that gives a stuff.

In the future I see, many, many, MANY people will wish they had taken the abortion option, both for themselves (not that it would have been a choice, obviously) and for their children.
That is why I didn’t have children.
To maintain Kiwi Saver ‘we’ will have to kill the environment for all these children VFL are so determined to slam against the bottle neck of this over populated rock.
People are commenting violence against their children everyday, every time you start your car, buy something, eat something, or generally just going about our western lifestyles, we are all reducing the ‘survivability’ of earth for future generations, it is a form of infanticide.
Debating the use of a heap of planet destroying concrete just shows how far we as a community needs to go to change ‘my’ future.
How much CO2 did building this idiot thing produce? Shame we didn’t just import a statue from Easter Island, it would have been more fitting for this insane culture.
So yeah keep debating how many angels can fit on the head of a pin, I’m sure your children will be so proud that you stood up and made a real stand for them.
“Mummy, Daddy, what did you do to give us kids a future planet to live on?”, “oh well, we argued over lumps of and long strips of concrete(Expressway) ” Or in other words “We failed you”
What a bunch of miserable, selfish, ignorant, bastards we have turned out to be.