Tanja McMillan, John Oz
"This charming, cartoon-like sculpture of a young girl and her elephant adds humour and a sense of playfulness to the street."
This petite sculpture by Tanja McMillan (street artist and illustrator also known as Misery) in collaboration with John Oz, refers to the story of the Ridgeway Circus, often told by renowned New Zealand artist Denis O'Connor. The circus used to set up on the roof of the former George Courts department store on Karangahape Road in the 1960s. To transport a baby elephant up to the big tent – known for dancing to 'Do the Twist' by Chubby Checker – it was put into a service elevator in the basement to travel to the rooftop.
McMillan calls herself a character artist and describes her works as little self-portraits. The little girl shown in Twist, dancing with a tiny elephant and holding it by the trunk, is typical of many of McMillan's cartoon-like figures. Both are set low to the ground to encourage pedestrians and children to interact with them.
Twist was installed at Beresford Square in 2015 and relocated to K’ Road in 2020, to allow for a new railway station to be built, as part of the CRL project. It is one of two sculptures commissioned for the K' Road neighbourhood, with Thief across the road, outside Lim Chhour Supermarket.
"I wanted to create artworks that children especially would find enchanting, and also reflect the characters and magic of K' Road during this period," says McMillan.
179 Karangahape Road, outside St Kevins Arcade