The exterior wall of the Ellen Melville Centre facing on to O'Connell Street is occupied by Justice, a large scale work by Lisa Reihana. A bronze sculpture of the scales of justice reference Ellen Melville, politician, women's advocate, lawyer and pioneer. The bronze form floats above an abstract wall drawing with a 1950s feel.
The interview with Lisa Reihana below is taken from Our Auckland, published in 2017
Tell us about the concept behind Justice and what inspiration you took from Ellen Melville’s life in creating the sculpture?
I wanted the bronze sculpture to form the centrepiece of the façade – it's a strong, singular form with gentle curves, while the whimsical abstract wall composition has a 50s feel, taking its cue from the Parnell Baths mural by James Turkington. It’s an honour to be a part of this historic moment to remember Ellen Melville and I’m so proud to create my first bronze work for Aucklanders. Justice commemorates Ellen’s achievements as a politician, women’s advocate and pioneer, the scales of justice referencing her legal career of 37 years. The original Ellen Melville Hall was designed by Modernist architect Tibor Donner – it’s wonderful the building has returned to its former glory as the Ellen Melville Centre for the people of Auckland.
What do you feel public art brings to urban spaces like Freyberg Place?
Public artworks become destinations, places where history is made and lives are lived. Plus they provide backdrops for selfies! I’ve always loved this part of the city, and know people are going to love spending time in Freyberg Place. It’s open, welcoming, a lovely spot for the sun and car-free which is great for everyone. I really appreciate the design work John Reynolds has done and it was genius to ask kids what they wanted from public spaces. You can beauty in the shapes everywhere, from the stairs to the ‘stream’ tumbling down the hill.
Do you have a favourite piece of public art in Auckland?
I have great appreciation for the classical 60s work Karangahape Rocks created by Greer Twiss. Twiss taught me sculpture at Elam Art School and his work is a great period piece – as someone who has lived in the centre of Auckland, it feels like home.