Neil Dawson's magnificent Chalice sculpture is located in Christchurch's Cathedral Square.

Chalice celebrates the new millennium and the 150th Anniversary of the founding of Christchurch and Canterbury by the Canterbury Association.


Sculptor Neil Dawson was commissioned to produce a major contemporary, public artwork for Christchurch by The Turning Point 2000 Trust. Funds for the Chalice were raised through grants from the Community Trust and the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board with Christchurch City Council meeting the cost of the foundations, granite, drainage works and lighting. 

The official lighting ceremony was held 10 September 2001 and Chalice has since been lit at night with one floodlight situated inside the base of the cone and one spotlight aimed at the exterior of the structure from the pavement

Find Chalice.(external link)

About the artist

An artist of international standing, Neil Dawson was born in Christchurch 1948, and went on to receive a Diploma of Fine Arts (Hons), Canterbury University 1970 and a Graduate Diploma in Sculpture, Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne 1973.

Dawson was awarded an Arts Laureate by the Arts Foundation of New Zealand in 2003.

Neil Dawson's(external link) works are on display at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur, Wellington and Auckland.


Chalice has a primary hexagonal steel structure and a solid steel conical base. Native leaf patterns are cut from aluminium sheet, welded to custom-made triangular beam structures, and then bolted into position on the frame.

The exterior of the conical structure is painted silver using a durable automotive paint. The interior of the sculpture, seen through the perforated shell, is painted metallic blue.

A dark band of black pearl granite in six segments surrounds the foot of Chalice making a circle just over 3 metres in diameter. 18 metres high, 2 metres in diameter at ground level and 8.5 metres in diameter at the top, its shape mirrors the spire of Christchurch Cathedral.

With a solid steel base up to approximately three metres above the ground and a perforated network of 42 aluminium shapes represent the leaves of native trees that previously grew in the city area.

The leaves depicted are mapou, kowhai, mahoe, totara, karamu, titoki, ngaio, maratata and koromiko. The leaf patterns - complex constructions made up of computer routed shapes -  reflect the geometric features of the Cathedral architecture, windows and tiles. As the leaves become larger, higher up the sculpture, they become more detailed and less dense.

The open texture of the artwork allows views into and through it.

The project also involved a number of local contractors including:

  • Router cutting - SignTech the Signmasters
  • Aluminium leaf fabrication - Davin Industries
  • Structural steelwork - Slade Engineering
  • Botanical consultant - Di Lucas
  • Painting - Robert O′Neill Panel and Paint Foundation
  • Construction - Fulton Hogan
  • Civil Granite base - Tretheweys Granite & Marble
  • Lighting - Connectics / Phillips Lighting
  • Engineering - Holmes Consulting Group
  • Computer design - Colin McLeod
  • City Council co-ordination - City Solutions.

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