Recycled racehorse: New sculpture pays tribute to town’s racing heritage

The new racehorse sculpture in Matamata.
The new racehorse sculpture in Matamata. © Adrian Worsley

A new racehorse sculpture created from scrap metal and old tools and farm implements has been unveiled at the centre of the town of Matamata in New Zealand’s North Island.

The three-tonne work made by Te Aroha sculptor Adrian Worsley from locally sourced materials was unveiled last week by Keep Matamata Beautiful, and serves as a visual reminder of the region’s horse racing history which dates back to the late 1800s.

The larger-than-life-size piece took two years to complete after some $250,000 was raised to get the project over the finish line.

Worsley said he’d had a “crash course” on horses as he didn’t know anything about them. But he said it was very satisfying to be pleasing the people who did know a lot about horses. “That does make my day.”

The jockey, which was modelled on Lance O’Sullivan, was made entirely from copper hot water cylinders.

Former jockey and trainer Jim Gibbs said at the unveiling that the end result was “quite amazing, considering he’s not a horse person and didn’t know much. He’s listened and learned and has made a magnificent job of this. It’ll be a great attraction for the town”.

Sculptor Adrian Worsley took two years to compete the work that was unveiled on March 18.
Sculptor Adrian Worsley took two years to complete the work that was unveiled on March 18. © Adrian Worsley

Worsley, a former fitter/welder, designs and constructs unique and original sculptures entirely from recycled materials in his studio in Te Aroha. With works featuring clever blending of materials and immaculate finishes, he breathes new life into the inanimate objects around him transforming them into magnificent tactile works of art. He has also opened his own gallery to showcase his work.

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