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Sparkles the crane signs up for art gallery expansion


Five-year-old Mabel Read swapped the playground for a construction site on Tuesday as she helped officially name the crane being used to deliver the expanded Newcastle Art Gallery. 

Mabel earned the chance to crown the crane “Sparkles” after winning a colouring competition run by City of Newcastle in collaboration with the head contractor on the site, Hansen Yuncken. 

In her entry, Mabel said that she chose the name “because it is cute and girls can build things too”. 

While the hammerhead tower crane stands as high as six giraffes stacked on top of each other, Mabel was given a ground-level view of the flag bearing its new name, which now adorns the crane’s counter jib. 

Competition runners up George Kimberly, aged four, and three-year-old Luka Tomasevic were also excited to see the crane in action, joining Mabel, Minister for the Hunter Yasmin Catley and Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes at the Art Gallery site for the special occasion. 

Cr Nelmes welcomed the collaboration with contractor Hansen Yuncken to connect some of the youngest members of the community to the city’s landmark project. 

“Speaking with our project team and our contractor I was interested to hear just how busy Sparkles will be as the construction progresses,” Cr Nelmes told the children. 

“Sparkles will move the same weight as around 50 elephants in reinforcing mesh for the concrete floors, beams, columns and walls. 

“It will also lift around 75 hippos worth of structural steel, and 3,000 square metres of roof sheeting, which is as big as around 300,000 ice blocks laid out next to each other.” 

Minister for the Hunter Yasmin Catley said it was fantastic to meet the next generation of art lovers and be given a sneak peek at how the project is progressing. 

“It’s always good to see cranes above the city – it means progress and the Newcastle Art Gallery is shaping up beautifully,” Minister Catley said. 

“This Gallery is an asset to the Hunter and I’m pleased to see it’s connecting with young people even while it’s being renovated.” 

Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton OAM celebrated the opportunity to spark interest in both the arts and construction amongst Newcastle’s youngest students. 

“The Gallery has long partnered with schools and pre-schools in the area to foster connections and creativity, and this remains a real priority for our team, even while our programming has moved off-site,” Ms Morton said. 

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