The family of late Christchurch sculptor Llew Summers is offering a reward for information leading to the safe return of one of his carvings presumed stolen.
Summers carved five Stations of the Cross panels, commissioned in 2000 to mark the centenary of the Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on Barbadoes St in central Christchurch.
Four of the panels have been recovered from the earthquake-damaged cathedral during demolition of the building, but one has gone missing.
Summers family believe the fifth station carving, Simon helps Jesus carry the cross, was stolen, and are offering a reward to anyone who can provide information leading to its safe return.
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Summers partner and artistic executor, Robyn Webster, said she was immensely grateful that church authorities managed to retrieve all the other marble panels, but the loss of one meantthe set was incomplete. Webster would not say how much the reward was for, but said it was reasonably generous.
He carved only one set, and they held great significance for him. Without the missing Station, it is less likely that they will find a home in [a] new cathedral.
We still miss Llew deeply and to lose even one of these wonderfully original works full of the humanity and pathos of Christs journey to the cross would be an added blow I hope it can be safely returned.
Llew Summers’ Stations of the Cross carving was commissioned to mark the centenary of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. His family believe it was stolen from the earthquake-damaged Catholic cathedral in central Christchurch.
The marble 440 by 550-millimetre carving depicts Simon of Cyrene helping Jesus carry the cross. The Stations were so regarded they inspired a series of poems from esteemed Kiwi poet Bernadette Hall and a symphony from Kiwi composer Anthony Richie.
Those stations really have a place in the cultural fabric of our city, Webster said.
Id love to see them reinstalled. There was a lot of love for Llew and his works in Christchurch, and weve lost so much in the earthquakes, so itd be really wonderful to try and retain a few things.
Llew Summers standing with protestors at the dedication of his Stations of the Cross at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in 2005.
Summers drew the inspiration for the panels during his first trip to Europe and their safe return would mean a lot to him and the rest of the family, she said.
Catholic diocese of Christchurch archivist Triona Doocey confirmed one of the carvings was missing.
It has gone, she said.
There is no evidence of it in the rubble underneath. It has either been stolen or someone has put it in a safe place.
Llew Summers’ distinctive sculptures are found across Christchurch.
Summers was one of New Zealands most prolific sculptors and his many nude figures and huge personality earned him fans, critics and infamy. Many of his public works were considered challenging, in time becoming landmarks in towns and cities up and down the country.
The well-respected artist died in the Mt Pleasant home he built on August 1, 2019, aged 72.
Anyone with information that may help with the recovery of the missing panel should email Webster on webrobynster@gmail.com.