Case Study

Olsen Irwin Gallery


When leading Australian racing identities Rob and Gai Waterhouse purchased Nic Fiddian-Green’s elegant equine sculpture Horse at Water for their Southern Highlands estate, the prestigious Olsen Irwin Gallery in Woollahra in Sydney’s eastern suburbs once again turned to Preston Hire to move a precious work of art.

As a young British artist, Nic Fiddian-Green was struck “as if by lightning” by the beauty of the great Horse of Selene, one of the Elgin Marbles at the British Museum, and has spent the last 30 years focused on capturing the beauty of a horse’s head.

Sculpting in a range of media and quite often on an awe-inspiring scale, one of his best-known works is a sculpture which stands in Marble Arch in London - an earlier rendition of Horse at Water, the composition with which he has been experimenting since 1983 and whose recent incarnation in bronze now graces the Waterhouse property.

Standing 3 metres high and weighing nearly half a tonne, the bronze Horse at Water had been on loan by the Olsen Irwin Gallery and on display in nearby Halls Reserve for a year as part of Woollahra Council’s Public Art Trust, established in 2012 to promote works of art for the benefit of residents and visitors to the Woollahra Municipality.

But with the purchase by Rob and Gai Waterhouse, the bronze beauty needed careful transport to its new country home. Having sourced cranes from Preston Hire previously to move works of art at the gallery, Gallery Manager Katrina Arent naturally turned to Preston Hire for assistance.

While not a massive move in terms of weight and size, it was an important one due to the value of the beautiful work of art and also required liaising with Woollahra Council to close surrounding roads while the sculpture was safely lifted out of Halls Reserve and loaded onto a truck for its journey – a lift-and-load which needed to be done expeditiously to allow traffic flow to quickly resume on Woollahra’s busy streets.

At 7am, Preston Hire trucked in their Maeda MC 285, which had been deemed ideal in terms of capacity for the lift and also the limited space available for the task. Horse at Water was carefully lifted out of the park and onto the truck, followed by the Maeda mini crane, was out of Woollahra by 8.30am and perfectly in place on the front lawn of the Waterhouse property by noon – just in time for the three-man Preston Hire team to enjoy lunch with Australian racing royalty.

Olsen Irwin’s Gallery Manager, Katrina Arent, had nothing but the highest praise for the Preston Hire team, and in particular Preston Hire’s Sales & Hire Co-ordinator NSW, Steve Bowden, on their response to the project.

“Steve was terrific; you couldn’t fault him,” Katrina Arent stated. “We rang about the move and he came over the same day to go through the scope of the project.

“There was great communication between Preston Hire and the gallery, and also the council, to ensure the move was done well; I couldn’t believe how quickly it was done that morning – it was amazing.

“It was also refreshing to feel that we weren’t being taken advantage of and were given a good rate; with the nature of our business and the price of art, some people see dollar signs – but not Preston Hire.

“We work with very valuable works of art, so we need to have confidence in the people we deal with; Preston Hire definitely inspire confidence and I couldn’t speak more highly of them,” Katrina Arent concluded. “We are moving another sculpture in the next few weeks and we will definitely be calling on Preston Hire because we always find them good to work with.”

Rob and Gai Waterhouse were also impressed with Preston Hire’s prompt and professional delivery of Horse at Water.

While familiar with watching winners tear up the turf on racetracks the world over, they were particularly pleased that the Preston Hire team took care not to tear up their lawn while positioning Horse at Water on their estate.

“Gai and I were delighted with the professionalism displayed by Preston Hire; everything was achieved more expeditiously than we expected and had been promised,” Rob Waterhouse said.

“We were concerned out lawn might be damaged, as has happened with other contractors, but there wasn’t a mark - thank you, Preston Hire!”