Giant Bridge Street penguin mural up for sale

ROA's mural of a penguin on the Boulder Apparel building on Bridge Street. Marion van Dijk / Fairfax NZ

An eight-metre long penguin has left its resting place on a Bridge St building-front and is on the market seeking a loving owner.

The giant black-and-white mural which was on the front of the Boulder Apparel building, near the corner of Bridge and Collingwood Sts, was created by Belgian artist ROA at the start of 2014.

Building owner Craig Fergusson and his wife commissioned the artwork after seeing ROA in action at Buxton Square crafting the giant squid and octopus.

Fergusson said it was a shame he had to remove the much-loved penguin, but it was needed to make changes to the front of the building.

A new door and window are being installed so The Factory Shop can relocate to the building from its current premises up the road.

"It's very sad, we are very sad to see it go, but we will be trying to find another home for it.

"We've got it off and it's in perfect condition, that's the most important thing. We didn't want to start looking for another home for it until we knew that it was going to come off not damaged."

He said the couple would start house hunting for the 8 by 2.5metre MDF-backed mural "very, very shortly", which could involve listing it on website TradeMe.

"We need to find a loving, caring home for it, somebody that enjoys the piece of art as much as I did.

"Not everybody liked it, and not everybody hated it. But art is in the eye of the beholder. I would dearly love it to go back into the public domain, that would be my biggest wish, but it has to be in a sheltered area because I don't want the weather to get at it."

He said the work was a "talking piece" and created controversy amongst his friends, "but that's what art's all about, isn't it".

Fergusson said dark fronted building would be painted in bright colours for The Factory Shop.

The shop is relocating because the owner of its current building, Galen King, is not renewing the lease for the earthquake prone building.

The lease for the bookshop that shares the building was not renewed either.

King, who also owns the Bridge St Collective building, said he didn't feel comfortable having tenants in it.

"It doesn't feel quite right, even if they are happy to be there. I don't want to go to sleep at night knowing the buildings I have are unsafe."

He said he hadn't planned to end the leases, but the situation gave him an opportunity to figure out what to do with the space.

"We've got a lot of ideas about how we can grow this community and add value to Bridge St. Our options will be dictated by engineering reports on whether the building has to come down or not."

He said the engineers had been pragmatic about the options and were looking at what could be done to retain the character of the old building.

"It might be demolished, but we don't know. Every option is out there at the moment.

"What we're really excited about is what we can do for the wider community and this part of town. We want to expand on what we've started here at the collective."

He said he hoped the space could be used to have wider benefit for the public and the street.

"We don't necessarily want to take the option of strengthening the whole thing and ending up with more empty, unleasable office space, because Nelson doesn't have an appetite for that."

King is working with the Nelson City Council, urban designers Canopy and Cube Architects to see if the project could tie in with the Bridge St upgrade.

"We're pretty excited about the possibilities there and what we could do to grow as the Bridge St Collective community that we've been building here for helping businesses and extending our community."