Welcoming you to Gisborne, standing either side of the main street in the town centre are two clay sculptures that resemble mammoth whale teeth.

Designed, made and installed 4 years ago by local potter and tutor, Seymour May of Mayfire Pottery.

Seymour said the Gisborne Community Arts Council commissioned the sculptures. Applications were called for an artwork for the city that portrayed the land, sea and people of the district. Seymour presented his concept and was accepted.

“The design was inspired by scrimshaw whale teeth. Images on the teeth depict where we are, the landscape, weather and the people of Gisborne. So you add in the clock, the sun, Young Nicks Head and early settlers of the region,” said Seymour.

The clay sculptures needed to be strong so that they couldn’t be easily damaged. The clay walls of the teeth were coiled 3 inches thick.
Each piece was made in 5 sections and required 50 bags of stoneware clay.
The 2 forms took a month to make, with 6 months to dry and 8 slow firings each of a week long.

With help, all the 10 pieces were moved and setup on concrete foundations. The sculptures were filled with sand and gravel, A three inch pipe was set into the foundations with reinforced rods to secure the forms to the pavement Each component was glued in place, on site, with a mixture of grog and epoxy resin then painted with two coats of anti graffiti paint.”

An official opening followed and the Historical Places Trust listed them as historical to Gisborne.

Seymour May is a member of Gisborne Pottery Group. He is a full time potter, creating original and traditional style ware at his workshop and Gallery at 17 Clifford Street. His gallery is open every day.