New Zealand sculpture of stairway to the heavens sending birds to their deaths

A New Zealand sculpture of a staircase made from aluminium descending up the sky has killed at least two birds after the critters impales themselves on the installation.

The sculpture, Diminish and Ascend, may now be modified to prevent any more birds from landing on the spike.

Artist David McCracken said he has been told two seagulls flew into the end of the sculpture, a 13-metre perspective staircase which had been installed in the Kiosk Lake of the Botanic Gardens in Christchurch.

“It’s not really the image you want – dead birds bleeding down the end of the sculpture.”

Diminish and Ascend by McCracken, an Auckland-based artist, is a scultpture that plays with perspectives, taking into account the visual effects associated with simulating distance.

By constructing a modified replica of a staircase that decreases in size as it nears its highest and furthest point from eye-level, it gives off the illusion of an infinite stairway to heaven as the aluminum steps ascend into the clouds without an end in sight, according to a Christchurch government website.

The piece cost NZ$192,000 and was paid for out of the city’s public art fund, which no longer exists. It still costs taxpayers NZ$700 a month to maintain the piece it costs to maintain the work, which includes wading into the lake where it’s based and washing off the bird poop.

One adjustment to the sculpture that could prevent future avian deaths involves replacing the metal tip of the staircase where the seagulls had impaled themselves with a gentler silicon-based tip.


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