'Parking' petition to change name and meaning behind Blenheim's big hand sculpture

The sculpture features a stone hand holding a double-sided coin, symbolising the pitfalls of capitalism.

A petition to change the name and meaning of a new art sculpture in Marlborough has created discussion on Blenheim's main streets.

A sculpture depicting a stone hand holding a $1 coin emerged on the corner of Market St and Main St earlier this month, created by Otago artist Josh Olley.

While Olley intended the sculpture to serve as a reminder that decisions based off "the dollar" can backfire, some observers have had other ideas.

A petition created last week suggested the installation named "Heads nor tails" be renamed "Parking money" to remind visitors to the town centre to pay for parking.

"The proposed new name would provide greater community benefit than the original anti-capitalist concept proposed by the artist," read the petition.

In the central business district on Thursday, the eye-catching sculpture had divided opinion.

Alex Martin, visiting from Auckland, said like all good art, the sculpture had a "depth to it" and could be interpreted in many different ways.

"You can't just look at a piece of art and say 'I like that' - you have to put some thought into it," he said.

A petition created last week is calling for the sculpture to be renamed "Parking Money".

Martin first thought the hand had a religious meaning, and was confused by the placement of the coin.

"Since they're holding the coin, it seems to be upholding the coin as something of importance which I would say could be a capitalist thing," he said.

"[But] after thinking about it and after you've told me the artist's intentions I can see the satire in it."

Sandra Dickinson admitted she had not noticed the coin at all, and focused instead on the hand itself.

"You can take it many ways. I didn't even look at the coin, I just looked at what was going on in the hand," she said.

"Look at all the detail in the lines on the hand ... it makes you look at your [own] hand."

While she believed ratepayers shouldn't have to pay for parking, she had not taken this meaning from the sculpture and said people could interpret art as they wished.

Tourists Lisa Wauters and Sarah Kreuzer weren't sure how to interpret the sculpture, but enjoyed it nonetheless, particularly the colour.

Carved from a piemontite boulder, which originated from the Southern Alps, near Wanaka, the sculpture took artist Josh Olley four months to complete.

"Maybe about capitalism and money, but after that I don't know the message," Wauters said.

"I think anyone can have their own opinion on art."

Artist Josh Olley himself said his intended meaning was "sense before the dollar" - to be wary of decisions based on money.

Although there was no chance of him changing the name, it was great to see art "make people think and discuss".

Carved from a piemontite boulder, which originated from the Southern Alps, near Wanaka, the sculpture took Olley four months of "elbow grease and tenacity" to complete.

The Millennium Public Art Gallery, which owns the sculpture, declined to comment.

Olley would travel to Blenheim next month for the official unveiling of "Heads nor tails".

Tourists Lisa Wauters and Sarah Kreuzer like the sculpture, but aren't sure how to interpret it.