Restoration of dolphin statue causes a stir

The dolphin statue before restoration.

The recent restoration of a dolphin statue on the Fish Hoek beachfront sparked a heft debate on Facebook with some saying it was long overdue and others saying it had been defaced.

The statue was first erected in 1985 in honour of author, and former owner what was then called the Fish Hoek Echo, Cedryl Greenland.

Ms Greenland had lived in Fish Hoek since 1921 and started her journey with the Fish Hoek Echo as an assistant to the editor. At the time, the editor used a pen name of Porpoise and she started writing under the pen name of Dolphin. In 1963 she took over the paper and ran it until 1978.

After her death in 1985 a group of her friends commissioned local sculptor, Ernest Lodge to produce a statue of a family of dolphins. The statue was moved from itS original location, behind the first subway, to the edge of the beach front parking area in 1987 after being vandalised several times.

Fish Hoek resident and former communications and events co-ordinator for the Fish Hoek Centenary, Sarah-Jane Brown said she thought it would be a good idea to have the dolphin statue as well as the statue, Frolic, situated at the entrance to the beachfront, repaired in honour of the centenary.

She took the task upon herself and arranged a sponsorship for the products after careful consultation with local artist, Gerrit Heyneke, 37, who advised her which products should be used on the cement and fibreglass statue and how the statue should be repaired and restored.

Ms Brown conducted several Facebook surveys on what colour the statue should be painted and asked Echo readers to vote for bronze, silver or gold after placing a photo of one of the statues in the newspaper in an attempt to encourage public participation (“Have your say on Fish Hoek statues,” Echo, January 11).

Although public participation was minimal, the vote indicated that residents wanted the statue painted bronze so Ms Brown proceeded with the arrangements. The restoration process took three weeks.

Mr Heyneke said the statue had been damaged due to exposure to the elements and wind corrosion and the tail of one of the dolphins was missing. He said repairing the statue was challenging for various reasons. Before painting the statue the surface had to be prepared and cleaned.

“It is a three dimensional statue and sanding it was not easy,” he said.

Reconstructing the tail from a mixture of epoxy and Pratley’s Steel took three days as it had to be given time to dry between sanding to give it shape.

The statue then had to be protected from the elements with an all purpose sealer and primer to ensure that the other materials would stick correctly.

It was then spray-painted bronze and sealed with a clear protective layer.

“It was extremely difficult to do as the wind blows constantly and I had to wait for wind still days to spray the statue,” he said.

Ms Brown said permission was granted by the City of Cape Town to paint the statue and despite her Facebook posts receiving many comments on ways to restore the statue, which included mosaics and painting the dolphins different colours, no one offered their help or time to do so.

Mr Heyneke said the comments from residents who were not happy with the statue did not bother him at all as the statue was in desperate need of repair and Ms Brown had taken it upon herself to do so.

“I loved working with Sarah on this project. She is energetic and cares about Fish Hoek and its people,” he said.

Mr Heyneke said the statue would develop its own unique look over time and the restoration had preserved it for generations to come.

Despite the Echo sending a detailed enquiry to the City of Cape Town on the procedure of repairing statues on City property, the City responded by saying it is looking at repairing the statue.