The Big Picture Show in Mullumbimby was a stimulating and socially engaging event. I sincerely hope it heralds a more genuinely inclusive approach to the modus operandi of the organisers Social Habitat (a self-described design, building and community development company) when the commissions/designs of its principals involve public land. Their track record to date regarding the latter is probably not commonly known.
In regard to an affordable housing scheme for the top half of the hospital site, they were content, in conjunction with the hospital reserve trust, to allow matters to progress to the DA stage without any public notification whatsoever. It ensued that the proposal had no takers due to the steep topography and leasehold nature of the land.
The design for a new cenotaph, which includes an increased footprint for a memorial precinct on the Civic Centre site, it would seem, was to bypass the DA process altogether. I am assured by councillors that this is not currently the case.
We now have before council a DA 10.2014.248.1 for the creation of a sculpture walk for 13 permanent sculpture sites from Federation Bridge to the scout hall.
Malcolm Price publicly apologised at the BPS for these plans not being made more public, as a concept plan, before he lodged a DA. It is usually too late to incorporate meaningful public feedback at this essentially adversarial DA stage.
As the fees were waived for the lodgement of this DA it would surely be a simple matter to temporarily withdraw it. The principal concern here is the zeitgeist ease with which our public land can be commandeered (eg the Byron corporate conference beach party).
The subject of public art is labyrinthine. One person’s cup of tea is another’s dog’s breakfast. I would welcome a sculpture event similar to the one that used to be held in Byron which could encompass the whole of the walking trail. Permanent sculpture on the naturally beautiful riverside walk is another prospect altogether.
On the aforementioned section the avenue of bulbous-trunked palms stretching out over a green expanse and the shapes and subtlety of the initial plantings of palms are an aesthetic delight in themselves. Thirteen permanent sites is too many on this section. Also approval is being sought for sculptures sight-unseen. At the very least this project should be contained to a finite area.
By the time this letter may be read there will be only three to four days left in which to make a submission (closes Monday June 16). While being empathetic to the creative impulse and acknowledging the desire to promote the arts for life-enrichment and remuneration considerations, I am advocating restraint regarding this project.
June Grant, Mullumbimby