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article imageGiant Gollum sculpture installed at New Zealand Airport

By Abigail Prendergast     Nov 6, 2012 in Entertainment
Gollum, one half of the popular computer-generated Middle-Earthling duo from 'Lord of the Rings', has been immortalized in a larger-than-life sculpture that now hangs in New Zealand's Wellington International Airport.
In an ode to the upcoming Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, a special effects company out of Miramar, New Zealand erected an astonishing sculpture of the Middle-Earth dwelling character, Gollum.
According to Laughing Squid, the physical replica of CGI-spawned Gollum weighs in at 2,645 pounds, and measures 9.8 feet high and 43 feet long. Even more remarkable is that Weta Workshop, the company responsible for the effects in the Lord of the Rings films, completed the construction of the sculpture in only three days.
Completed on October 25, the larger-than-life Gollum was subsequently suspended from the ceiling at New Zealand's Wellington National Airport. His "emaciated physique and momentary expression of glee" is quite obvious as he lusts over "juicy sweet fishes" that also hang from the roof and were also created by Weta Workshop.
“We have had a long and wonderful relationship with the Wellington Airport team, who continually focus on presenting an exciting gateway into our city," said project overseer, Richard Taylor. "We are thrilled to once again be creating something with Wellington Airport that will bring delight to the many visitors coming to our fabulous city.”
The Airport went as far as to rename the terminal the Gollum construct now calls home with a sign saying, "The Middle of Middle-Earth."
“As the first and last impression to our region, the Airport is proud to work with Weta and have this magnificent sculpture on display for all to see. Everyone will be amazed when they enter the terminal," said Steve Sanderson, Wellington Airport’s Chief Executive. "Visitors can walk under and around Gollum and the fish to explore the sculpture’s beauty and intricate detail; it really does feel like you’re in the stream with him."
While the sculpture itself took only three days to build, the planning process consisted of a few steps: the first was creating a 3D model of Gollum in a virtual map-out of the terminal space his physical incarnation was to be constructed. Then a digital/physical hybrid of the character was created by a team of 18 Weta Workshop "sculptors, model makers, painters and other specialists."
The actual Gollum sculpture was sculpted from large blocks of polystyrene and then sealed with epoxy resin. The fish he stalks for his meal were referenced from Richard Taylor's own bathroom.
In order to get Gollum into the terminal, the team built him in nine separate parts and put it together after getting it all through the doors. His armature is made up of scaffolding pipe.
Here are some key facts for the installation as described by the Wellington Airport website:
"- Made up of 9 separate components that were brought in through the main terminal doors and then clamped together and painted onsite.
- It is connected to the Main Terminal trusses by 10 suspension wires
- There are 3 fish which are 4m long each
- 9 bubbles are coming out of Gollum’s mouth
- The sculpture weighs 1.2 tonnes
- 13 metres long and 3 metres high
- Made of polystyrene and covered in epoxy resin
- Window decals have been designed to represent the stream"
More about Lord of the rings, Sculpture, gollum, The hobbit
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