A sculpture by prominent Byron Shire artist John Dahlsen is to be removed from its controversial foreshore location because Byron Shire Council says it is being destroyed by insect pests.
Titled Monumental Environmental Artwork, the sculpture comprises the modified trunk and root ball of a large camphor laurel tree.
It was given to the council by the artist on a five-year loan after the artsCape foreshore art festival folded in 2012.
Council later spent some $10,000 to protect the artwork from possible vandalism following public protests about its location in Apex Park at Byron Bay’s Main Beach.
But the work is now suffering from a different type of vandalism: wood-boring weevils and fungi associated with wood rot.
According to the council’s director of infrastructure services, Phil Holloway, the decay has caused sculpture has become unsafe and it needs to be removed.
‘Treating the sculpture at the site was believed not possible because of the prominent beachfront position and the possible need for fumigation,’ he said.
Mr Dahlsen won a Swell sculpture festival prize for environmental art at Currumbin as well as the People’s Choice Award at artsCape in 2012.
But it was not everybody’s choice and a petition to have it removed, containing 232 signatures, was tabled at a Byron Shire Council meeting in May 2012.
Council simply ‘noted’ the petition, however, and fenced the artwork in place.
Byron mayor Simon Richardson thanked John Dahlsen for lending the sculpture.
‘The tree has created much dialogue for locals and visitors alike as they visit our popular Byron Bay beachfront,’ he said.
‘Beachgoers young and old are often seen walking around the tree, taking photos and learning about the complexities of what lay beneath the earth and gave the tree life. Not only is the piece visually stunning; the countless hours of handiwork and commitment can be seen in every crevice.
‘Public artwork can bring a space to life, or add a new dimension, and Council was proud to support John’s art piece as its first installation,’ Cr Richardson said.