The sculpture Transient Being is situated in the Whanganui District Library courtyard gardens. Whanganui-born sculptor, Hamish Horsley, went overseas to study sculpture at London’s City and Guilds and the Royal College of Art, graduating in the early 1980s. His most prominent work is the Tibetan Peace Garden situated in central London.
Transient Being was carved out of Portland stone in 1997, and exhibited at several locations in England before being loaned to New Zealand House in London, where it was on display for twenty years. Following the artist’s offer to gift the work to Whanganui, a public appeal raised sufficient funds for its shipping and installation in 2021.
The dynamic relief on the sculpture alludes to the impermanence of all things and signifies change and regeneration. Horsley goes on to say,
“On the left side of the work, the transient being flees upwards towards this apex of the triangle, seeking home and refuge. But from the right comes this great force, this cyclonic energy that will soon overwhelm, bringing change, pushing the transient being out towards new horizons.”
The upper triangular form to be a symbol of sanctuary, of the whare or home, while the lower rough portion of rock represents the earth from which it originated. The two are symbolically interdependent, flowing from one to the other.
Transient Being received a few changes to suit its final home, including defining some of the lines on the lower half and propping the sculpture up upon a plinth of Oamaru stone.