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May 8, 2021

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One person’s treasure is another person’s trash, it seems, by the response by some people to the eye-catching tree-root sculpture on Byron Bay’s main beachfront.

The camphor-laurel sculpture called Monumental Environmental Artwork by John Dahlsen is a drawcard to visitors to Apex Park.

But a petition tabled at Byron Shire Council this month with 232 signatures only refers to the artwork as a ‘camphor laurel root’ and calls for it to be removed.

The objecting petitioners say it’s ‘inappropriate’ for the area and ‘interferes’ with the view and ‘natural beauty of the beachfront and the bay from the mountains to Julian Rocks and the lighthouse’.

But councillors were not swayed and decided simply to note the petition.

The installation was a five-year loan from the artist after the annual ArtsCape Biennial folded last year.

It won the 2010 Peoples Choice Award in that festival as well as a recent Swell sculpture  festival prize for environmental art at Currumbin on the Gold Coast.

The petition claims it collected many of the signatures in a small section of the CBD within five hours and that ‘nearly all the businesses in this area agreed’ to its removal.

The sculpture recently had a fence costing almost $10,000 installed around it for safety.

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  1. What I find incredible in this story is that the fence cost almost $10,000.00! The art is fascinating – leave it there.

  2. Please remove that eyesore from the Park.
    It is totally inappropriate, very ugly and blocks the view from the Hotel.
    It shows the state of the Byron Bay Arts community and the Council in a very poor light to persist with it.
    Tourists I have spoken to think its a pathetic joke.

  3. What? We’re lumbered with this horrendous eyesore for 5 years? 10k for the fence?! This just gets worse.
    The thing was a noxious weed when it was alive and now it’s the same dead. Does the Byron Shire Council hate Byron Bay?

  4. John Dahlsen’s camphor root sculpture may indeed be in the wrong place, as objectors claim, but perhaps there is a North Coast environmental message in this work, namely that the best camphor is an uprooted one. Perhaps that’s why it won an environmental art prize. If so, the more people who see it, the better. The main question, however, is how the apparently ordinary fence could have cost almost $10,000 to instal. I suggest the artist has been framed.

  5. Although on one level I can see that it qualifies as’environmental Art’, hence the award at Swell.
    I think it is inappropriate for the site as it portrays an introduced noxious weed specie and the colour it has been stained/finished in is all wrong for the colour of a finished piece of ‘Camphor’. Also it is not really representative, as an art piece, of John Dahlsen’s artworks- I don’t really see it as a found item, which his main oeuvre.
    I would rather see a sculpture of a whale skeleton in this position, in appreciation of this environmental and tourism component to the current make-up of Byron.
    I qualify my comments with the fact that I am qualified in fine Art (sculpture) and also Environmental Science and Tourism management.

    As to the reported cost of $10,000 for the fence, however aesthetic, appears that council -once again has been overquoted.

  6. Dear editor can you please send me a larger photo as Im trying to see if there is a jewlers Hall Mark stamp anywhere in the photo.

    Cause I’m sure those fence post must be made of silver if that tiny area cost almost $10,000 buck to install !!!

  7. I like the camphor-laurel sculpture. For me it is indicative of time, forces of nature and a tree whilst considered a weed provides the most beautifully scented products for which Byron and its markets are famous for. Kudos to the sculptor and The Council on this one.

  8. It is the lower part of the trunk and a large part of the root system of a camphor laurel. Perhaps Dahlsen dug it up I imagine that he spent a lot of time cleaning and polishing it. Whatever. He sculpted nothing.

    The installation is ‘recumbent’. What was a large part of a tree is not in its natural state. If it was, it would be rotting away.

    Other things which don’t rot away are discarded bottles and cans. These are often found in the same area as the former tree part.

    So clearly this non-sculpture is appropriately-sited. NOT!!!

    Please remove it now.

  9. I too feel it totally displaced , I dont see why we as a community have to look at this big tree stump in the middle of the park it looks so ugly and totally out of character . I fit has to be somewhere because the council and John Dahlsen have some connection then why not where the other wooden art pieces are so it becomes part of the Art and Creative Corner for people to admire . it looks so out of place and I wonder why it was ever agreeed upon we have a natural seascape which is totally incredible this only spoils it .


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