American crew assemble Marilyn sculpture that gallery director Karen Quinlan says will be a conversation-starter

FLASH IN THE PARK: Forever Marilyn, the eight-metre tall sculpture of beloved screen siren Marilyn Monroe on loan to the Bendigo Art Gallery, was unveiled in Rosalind Park on Tuesday. Picture: DARREN HOWE

FLASH IN THE PARK: Forever Marilyn, the eight-metre tall sculpture of beloved screen siren Marilyn Monroe on loan to the Bendigo Art Gallery, was unveiled in Rosalind Park on Tuesday. Picture: DARREN HOWE

It might have taken a 40-tonne crane, 24 hours and five American crew members, but Bendigo’s super-sized sculpture of Marilyn Monroe was finally revealed in the Rosalind Park piazza on Tuesday morning.  

Adam Garey, one of the workers brought out from the US to assemble the sculpture, said the installation was a seamless procedure. 

“We didn't have any hitches, the unload went smoothly and the install went well,” he said.

Video: Julian Fisher 9News

He said his team would spend the next few days touching up paint on the statue and covering its join marks before returning home. 

But the crew will travel back to Bendigo and dismantle the sculpture at the close of the gallery’s Marilyn Monroe exhibition. 

While this is the first time Seward Johnson’s Forever Marilyn artwork had been outside the US, Mr Garey travelled to Cannes in France last year to install another of the sculptor’s larger-than-life pieces. 

Even though he was already very familiar with the work, Mr Garey said he had not tired of seeing onlookers’ reaction to the sculpture.  

“There’s always someone that walks between her legs and looks straight up,” he said, laughing.

Gallery director Karen Quinlan said she hoped the statue would kick off conversations about art in the community. 

“You're always going to have people who don't like certain things, but I think good sculpture does that,” she said.

“It creates debate and that's healthy.

“If people walked past and just said 'ho hum' you'd be worried.”

Ms Quinlan said she had been contacted by Bendigo residents concerned for the statue’s safety, but she asked the community to trust in the gallery’s expertise when it came to security.

“[The sculpture] is robust, she's strong,” she said.

“People need to understand that there is a system in place, and that the gallery is very careful and experienced in this space.”

In fact, the arts leader said she expected the community to miss the sculpture by the time it returned to the US later this year.

“I can guarantee when it leaves, people will be sorry to see it go.”

It's only here once and people need to embrace it and love it, and I can guarantee when it leaves, people will be sorry. - Gallery director Karen Quinlan

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