A bright pink bunny sculpture in Maffeo Sutton Park is making a statement about the City of Nanaimo’s feral rabbit problem.
“Domestic rabbits are released and they multiply and they go unchecked. There seems to be no way to stop them,” said Nanaimo artist Dale Schulz who created the piece called Hungry Bunny. “I just felt that I wanted to question how does a small creature become a big heavy problem?”
Schulz said even though it is a big problem, illustrated by the artist by the heaviness of the hammerhead, he wanted to do it in a whimsical way and keep it light.
“I don’t have any answers to the problem. All I can do is ask the question,” he said. “The conversation has been on for a number of years, but there does not seem to be any easy answer – no real solution. People certainly don’t want a cull, because they are cute lovable creatures and on the surface they don’t seem to cause a problem until you have to maintain gardens and landscaping and lawns, which can be overrun.”
Schulz said the design was inspired by a little vintage hammerhead that is in his collection of tools that sits on his desk. He said the claw of the hammer looked like the ears of a bunny to him. The hole where the hammer handle would fit is meant to represent the endless appetite of bunnies.
“I just needed to super size it and add some nice colour,” said Schulz.
Schulz said he worked with a “highly skilled team” to create the piece. The bunny was fabricated with the help of All Metals Installation Ltd., Stewart Murray and Ric Steed. Schulz received a $4,000 honorarium through the City of Nanaimo’s temporary public art program, but spent $12,000 creating the piece. Schulz said he spent the remainder of the money out of his own pocket because he wanted to make the sculpture larger so it would have more impact on viewers.
Schulz said he’s been hearing a range of comments about the piece, everything from “it’s a blot on the landscape” to it’s the “direction we should be going with public art in Nanaimo.”
When asked if he hopes Hungry Bunny becomes a permanent art fixture in Nanaimo such as The Frame, Schulz said he would “love it if it became one of those iconic pieces.
“I have heard word from people that they would love to see it stay,” he said.