A sculpture that is accused of being a copy of an iconic statue in London is seen along the Huangpu River in Shanghai on Tuesday. (GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY)
Authorities in Shanghai are investigating a sculpture along the Huangpu River that has been accused of being a copy of an iconic statue in London.
The sundial-shaped artwork, located in Pudong New Area's Dongchang Riverfront Garden, is said to be a copy of British artist Wendy Taylor's work Timepiece near the Tower Bridge.
"We are trying to find out who the artist is and which department is responsible for the artwork being located in the garden," said a publicity official with the Pudong New Area Planning and Land Authority.
He said the garden was built in 2006, but that his department took charge of the area in 2009.
"If the sculpture is proven to be an infringement of the British artist's intellectual property rights, she can report to the city's intellectual property administration," he added.
According to a report by British newspaper The Independent on Sunday, Taylor was shocked to be sent a photo of the Shanghai sculpture, which is almost identical to her 1973 artwork. She was alerted by an art aficionado who saw the installation while on holiday, and emailed Taylor a photo to check whether the artwork was hers.
"At first, I thought someone had done a clever Photoshop operation and changed the background, but then I looked more closely and thought, 'Oh my god, no, this is a complete copy'," Taylor was quoted as saying.
She also told the British newspaper that the Chinese sculpture is "almost an exact copy" of Timepiece, from the steel ring washer sundial with its central pointer－designed to resemble a dockyard nail－to the chains supporting it and base mimicking London cobblestones.
No information about the Shanghai artwork's sculptor, meaning or when it was created has been published.
Zheng Jiashi, former deputy director of Shanghai Urban Sculpture Center, said on Tuesday that Shanghai has never been embroiled in a plagiarism dispute involving artwork, adding that it might be a little difficult to make an appeal due to a lack of precedent.
"However, China attaches great importance to the protection of intellectual property rights, and the statue will definitely be removed if it is proven to have infringed on such rights," he added.
There are about 3,500 statues in public spaces across the city, with Shanghai keen to appeal to its international population.