Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Aspiration on Upper Lorne Street

Camera in hand, today I took some more photos of my city.

Meet "Aspiration", by sculptor Roderick Burgess. I used to work in this vicinity, from the mid 1980s to early 1990s. Passed by this statue quite a bit, and only now stopped (against the stream of students and graduates coming down the steps from Mayoral Drive into Lorne Street) to look upward.

Yes, that is a beer bottle on his finger. Whoever clambered up there to do it, no doubt the worse for insobriety at the time, had more guts than brains.

Still, litter aside, "Aspiration" is a beautiful piece of art.

According to the leaf-framed plaque, this was donated to the city by Parisian Neckwear Co Ltd, which was once based on Upper Lorne Street. Tiemakers to the city. These days, they're at Poynton Terrace in Newton, according to their webpage.

Thanks to the staff at the Auckland Research Centre, I was able to find out that the business was started by C. H. Abdallah who arrived in Auckland (right now, I still don't know when), went on a trip to the United States, and came back to Auckland impressed by that country's tie industry. "He learned all he could," according to an anniversary promotion in the Auckland Star for the firm's golden anniversary in 1969, "and quickly became an expert in ties and their making. On his return to Auckland he commenced a one-man business with the aid of his daughter ... The name 'Parisian' was chosen to overcome the initial distrust of the quality of made-in-New-Zealand products." (It was also a term used by upmarket stores like Kirkcaldie & Stains c.1913) The business started in the Brunswick Building in 1919, then moved to 74 Lorne Street, with a staff of 24, in 1922. That was just across Memorial Drive from the site of the statue, today just empty space due to the construction of the ring road. The company survived, of course, and today makes ties for schools, military use, masonic orders, corporate dress with logos, even "KZ-7" ties back in the late 1980s for the America's Cup.

"Aspiration" is a great way for this Auckland business to leave their mark on the cityscape.


  1. That's a fab statue and you're right - what a novel way for a company/business to get noticed ( or, for the cynical, free advertising!).

  2. You're right about the free advertising, Jayne (why be philanthropic these days if no one knows about it then buys your stuff ...?) -- but it's streets ahead of yet another billboard cluttering up the scene.

    More art, less ads -- that'll do me.

  3. And ... I should have put "and doesn't buy your stuff." Eh. My blog, I can stuff things up. ;)

  4. Cool images Ice the sculpture is really beautiful. The bottle in his hand hah hah hah.Yeah someone must have had more guts than brains to do that. Wasn't me..I hate heights..Great post and yeah it is a good way to advertise..

  5. My husband proposed to me by this statue. I've always loved it. His clan motto is Dum Spira Spera, which is a Latin pun on Respiration/Aspiration that means, "While I breathe, I hope". In a nice bit of serendipity, if you look at it from the uphill side from a certain angle, he's holding the Sky Tower in his raised hand like a torch.

  6. How cool. Thanks for your comment.