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Joanne Sullivan with her maquette statue of Sir Keith Park. Photo: Victoria Logan/Stellanova Photography

Statue progress flies high

A private viewing of a statue of Thames born air marshal Sir Keith Park is opened for boarding on November 23.
Sir Keith Park Memorial Airfield Inc president Geoff Furkert told The Profile the 2.3m tall statue had been sculpted by Joanne Sullivan at her Helensville studio, and he had invited the 29 members of his society and statue donors to view it.
“The thought [for the visit] came from Joanne herself to raise the profile a little bit and have some sort of function before the clay model goes off to the foundry [in China for bronze casting],” he said.
Mr Furkert said the reason for the statue was to gain greater recognition and acknowledgement of morals and values set by Sir Keith.
“Above all he was compassionate, he spent time talking to people that he was associated with at all levels to make sure he really understood what was going on in that particular organisation,” he said.
“That’s a very strong role model for our current generations and we would like to see that promoted in Thames by this memorial.
“It also becomes part of the scene in the Coromandel, we’re already getting quite a steady stream of people coming to have a look at the plane memorial and get an understanding of Sir Keith Park and that would probably intensify.”
Joanne told The Profile she hoped the invited visitors would be happy with her progress on the statue.
“I’m hoping they will be very happy with it, I’ve had some tremendously good comments on it and I’ve been eyeballed by a couple of people who arkind of in the know.
Joanne said she was approached by Geoff Furkert in October 2020 to ask if she would be interested in creating the sculpture of Sir Keith Park.
“I knew a little bit about the history knowing way back in school years that he won the Battle of Britain,” she said.
“I then came up with a concept and presented the project and the bronze casting process to the [Sir Keith Park Memorial Airfield] committee a couple of months later.”
Joanne said she was then commissioned to construct the statue in December, 2020, and began working on a maquette, or miniature model of the statue.
“It took some months to get the maquette done, I think it was finished in March [2021] because I went down for the Steampunk and showed it to the committee at the same time, and they were very impressed with it.”
Joanne then completed a clay model which she planned to send to a foundry in China in early December, where it will be made into a silicone rubber mould and poured over with wax.
“Providing the funds are available, the rough waxes will be here in early January and I will work the detail into the wax and resculpt the entire sculpture in wax,” she said.
“I will then ship them back to the foundry in late February, and they will start the bronze casting process.”
The finished bronze statue was expected to be returned to New Zealand in late July or early August, depending on funding, and planned to be unveiled at Thames Airfield before next year’s Battle of Britain commemorations in September.