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Byron Shire
February 25, 2021

The world gets a giggle out of Byron’s shiny new member… 

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The new sculpture on the Bayshore Drive roundabout has already become a public joke. Photo: Jeff Dawson

Paul Bibby

‘Disco Dong’, ‘Sea Side Shaft’, ‘Schlonghenge’… Whatever you want to call it, the new, undeniably-phallic sculpture rising proudly from Byron’s Bayshore Dr roundabout has certainly captured the world’s imagination.

But it may not be the kind of attention Byron Council was hoping for when it commissioned the 12-metre, $52,000 installation for the gateway to the arts and industrial estate.

The finishing touches are still being made to the sculpture – a depiction of the Byron lighthouse made from thousands of stainless steel birds – but it has already become a source of hilarity, derision and in some cases outrage for locals and non-locals alike.

Artist’s impression of the new sculpture for the Bayshore Drive roundabout. Source Byron Shire Council

‘Goulburn has the big merino Coffs has the big banana…Byron shire gets the big dick…’ one local commented on the Byron Bay Community Board Facebook page.

‘Can you believe it, the giant bird-phallus has already hit the headlines in the Daily Mail, ENGLAND!’ said another.

Others have been less jocular about the town’s latest artistic addition.

More than 520 people have already signed a petition on Change.org for the installation to be removed, and the numbers are continuing to climb fast.

‘I feel terrible for the person or persons who made the giant new sculpture, but it is an eyesore, and looks a little too close to being a male’s private organ rather than a lighthouse, even if it’s not quite finished,’ the local who set up the petition, Jamie Green, said on Change.org.

‘Byron has been built on its humbleness and a 12-metre high sculpture on the drive in completely changes the way we represent our town.

‘I am all for growth and things shifting, but could this artwork not have been an opportunity to honour the history of the town and represent the communities’ values? This tall shiny metal object feels like it belongs in Surfers Paradise rather than blocking the view of the 117 year old lighthouse.’

Others have angrily pointed out that the $52,000 spent on the structure could have gone towards more practical purposes, such as fixing some of Byron’s potholes.

Meanwhile, Byron Council is asking locals to wait until the sculpture is finished before making up their minds.

‘The installation of the artwork is not completed and we ask that people reserve their judgement until it is finished,’ a council spokesperson said.

‘What is disappointing is that people travelling on the roundabout are yelling at and abusing the artist as he is trying to work and understandably this is quite upsetting.’

‘The forecast this weekend is for unpredictable weather but it’s expected the installation will be finished by early next week.’

Art Panel recommendation 

At its August 3 meeting, Council’s Public Art Panel recommended that Melbourne artist Corey Thomas create the piece, depicting ‘a silhouette of the famous lighthouse using thousands of stainless steel birds’.

The panel comprises Crs Hackett and Ndiaye, along with community representatives.

And at its October 11 meeting, the art panel’s agenda minutes said, ‘Some concern was raised from panel members about the change of material for the Bayshore Drive Roundabout public art project. Further information to be sought from the artist and provide to panel members.’

All minutes and agendas for Council meetings are available online at www.byron.nsw.gov.au/Council/Council-meetings/Agendas-Minutes.

The Change.org petition to remove the sculpture is available at https://bit.ly/2EtPVYQ.

Resident Jamie Green, who created the webpage, says the problem is: ‘I feel terrible for the person or persons who made the giant new sculpture, but it is an eyesore, and looks a little too close to being a males private organ rather than a lighthouse. Even it its not quite finished.’
‘Byron has been built on its humbleness and a 12 meter high sculpture on the drive in completely changes the way we represent our town.
‘Disclaimer: I do appreciate the time and energy that has go into the sculpture from the artist & workers, but it just doesn’t suit Byron Bay. 

‘Solution – Take it down.’

 


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48 COMMENTS

    • I dont understand this argument against a non local artist. It was an art competition and they wanted the best possible idea. If it was a 50/50 decision youd go the local design but maybe this was a clear case that this design was the best.

  1. The mind boggles at how the parties involved got this so very wrong. I wonder if there was much community consultation; was there even any at all??

  2. Yes, I agree. The money could have been better spent on fixing local roads or helping local people . Personally, I think it is an unnecessary eyesore and not needed. Why not plant a tree! It changes the whole presentation of Byron from being a low key beach town to something more like the Gold Coast.

  3. I think we need to wait until it’s complete and then decide. Fair’s fair for the artist who’s installing the piece – let’s reserve our personal judgements until it’s finished.

  4. Apart from the recent bicycle stand sculptures in town, Byron’s track record for successful permanent sculptures is zero, with the removal of the varnished large tree root to Tyagarah.

    Unless our latest 12 metre erect prosthesis gets a hormonal change during completion, its fate may soon be in an entirely different location as well.

    It’s interesting how council has decided to put a traffic stopper in the middle of a roundabout, which is a $5.6 million attempt in speeding up traffic.

    Artistic message = Yep,, The World Is Crazy.

  5. It’s only a matter of time before Hare Krishna devotees annoint this lingam with ghee. That could become an annual ritual and should boost tourism.

  6. Whatever the sculpture we have so many local talented artists that could benefit from this money. Did it have to be a lighthouse why. It nature. In Europe they change the sculptures periodically to give artists a chance to dysplay their work.
    The one on the way to Ballina is simple and inkeeping with the landscape at least.
    There are 2 rangers on each day for the Byron Shire as a result they are snowed under and we have inappropriate behaviour in areas, dumping of rubbish, dogs in biodiversity areas and overall lack of governance. The priorities seem to be in the wrong places.

  7. it is so disgusting, a ‘silhouette’ it is not, just more phallic objects that are an eyesore.

    Who makes these appalling decisions?

    Fix the traffic issues and put in some roundabouts where they are needed on Ewingsdale Rd.

    I just look at this in disbelief, wishful thinking on behalf of the creator, not artist. OMG

    • Who makes the decisions? Simon Richardson is behind most of the stupid decisions in recent years. He is completely removed from the wishes of mainstream residents, in fact , he is an an arrogant photo opportunist, determined to make Byron Bay a familiar environment for people who originate in Melbourne.

  8. I think it is quiet fitting for the theme park called Byron.

    Its also in alignment with the closure of Supertime Blues, and the Grotto, and the removal of the comfy slab timbre seats throughout the town that were then replaced by really uncomfortable slat seat designed to keep community members, I mean consumers, walking past shops.

    Perhaps the ‘community’ could vote for council representatives that are committed to transparency. At least then you’d know what you’re getting, warts and all.

    • The ‘community’ regularly votes for council representatives that are apparently committed to transparency, right up to the time they are voted in.

  9. What a predictable lot the Byron community are and how outspoken in their views.

    Outrage at art is not new. Remember the neysayers upon our purchase of Pollock’s Blue Poles? What an investment Gough made.

    A painting, named Nu Couche which means Reclining Nude, threw artist Amedeo Modigliani into controversy when it was produced in 1917.

    The painting sparked protests when it was first put out on display at the Galerie Berthe Weill in Paris.

    It most recently sold for $113 million!

  10. So that means when I am driving down Ewingsdale Rd (in the traffic jam) into Byron I will see 2 lighthouses….very trippy…..seeing double, makes it a danger point in the middle of the road. Speeds will have to be dropped to 30kph or less 100m before it. Once traffic queues up and stops (visitors do that) across the roundabout, its all over.

    A beautiful entrance for Elements though, to signify where to turn off Hmmmm.

    When I lived in Byron people were lighthoused and Dophin’ed out but I always loved both.
    With all the called “talented” artists in the Byron Shire it’s strange the “talented” committee was incapable of selecting a local Also its quite logical and painfully obvious for a Melbourneite to think a lighthouse is needed in Byron… I did when I opened Bay Kebabs 25 years ago 🙂

    • 100% agree. Unless you are right at the damn thing you don’t know what is on it. Complete waste of money. They could have bought some of those large palm trees on the way up to Bangalow. Would have looked much nicer and way cheaper. The council is a joke!

  11. Apart from the many objections outlined above, can anyone please explain to me why Byron Bay needs a sculpture of a lighthouse when the town is lucky enough to have a very beautiful REAL lighthouse!

  12. Not really appropriate for Byron Bay. No offence to the Artist but a Sculpture with movement would have been more appealing. Some thing like Phil Price’s Sculpture Tree of Life at the McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery in Langwarrin Vic.The disc move in the wind. Brilliant. The council could do what the Council does in Vic. Keep the sculpture for a year then move it to another venue.

  13. The essence of Byron Shire residents is an alignment with nature and a softer way to life. This has nothing to do with the artist, in the right place it would be embraced and admired. In Byron it is a huge, in your face, phallic, shiny city sculpture. Locals are angry, upset or shocked. All art has its place, it’s not the art, it’s just Byron is not the place for it.

  14. Mm will it feed, house or help the underprivileged at all this Christmas or anytime..
    Can’t even employ local artists, who would of spent the $52000 LOCALLY.

    Seriously was this council voted in?

  15. Saw it first time yesterday and first impression was yes..definitely phallic.. As commented above…it’s not finished yet…if it soon morphs more into an actual lightnouse looking piece we may save some face..People ..we actually DID have a chance to comment on the need or not to have a sculpture months before . The artist is an out of towner simply becos no local applied so the best applicant was chosen. Did you newcomers know Council made a debacle over a $25000 Xmas Tree a few years back. It was so plastic and fake looking and the lights had elec problems and it was continually vandalised. As I said when the tree was erected and I say now for this sculpture…if a fence is not put around it…sorry…it’s going to be vandalised. Same same everyone said the glitz tree suited up the coast not here. Then in Lismore saw their real tree…Norfolk Pine.. lopsided and all with decorations costing not an arm and a leg looking decidedly homegrown ….a totally warm and fuzzy Christmas feeling. So easy to get it right..why so hard then? Cyclonic winds will test out whether these little metal birdies stay anchored or fly away.

  16. It is definitely the right symbol for Byron these days. It is no accident this giant phallic symbol happened. The universe is giving the community a message… it is good that the magic still lands for everyone to learn from. Leave it up as a reminder.

  17. Living here 36 years. After a long and tiring trip to tweed, Brisbane or other place I have always had a relaxed contented feeling when I would drive down Ewingsdale Rd and see the lighthouse framed by the trees and edges of the road into town . I knew I was safely home and able to relax again breathing the sweet salt air.
    I’m sure many would have enjoyed the experience but now, shock horror gasp there is an edifice blocking the once Beautiful view. Why?

  18. How very interesting it will be to give instructions for tourists to drive into the Industrial Estate… “turn left/right at the dick”
    ????
    Perhaps not such a good idea after all.
    I’m not so sure if the whole Industrial Estate business community would be happy to be associated with such a derogatory “land mark”.
    Because a sculpture that gets such a budget, to represent our rich number of artists… Must have the community input and local artists involvement.
    What happen here was definetly not what we needed, or what the majority of the local artists see as a positive representation of our community or our artists. Why on earth push the mistake deeper and deeper into the ground.
    In my view the Art Panel failed the community. The members of the Art Panel who selected the sculpture must be asked to go.
    Council needs to work with the artists to rectify such a poor choice, and such poor Panel procedure.
    Byron residents are not stupid. Time for the project to finish is a lame excuse for not working with the local artists in the first place.

  19. It would fit well into goldcoast landscape… But as it is there now… Why not accept it and make the best out of it. Maybe plant some trees and stand some rocks aside.
    After all do not pretend that Byron people do not love to shine…

  20. IT’S PERFECT. In the old days surely The Echo would have been the first to approve the symbolism. You guys are growing old and fuddy fuddy. Let’s build an even bigger one……on the new roundabout right outside Council Chambers in Mullumbimby where it’s meaning would be unmistakable.

  21. All these people commenting about the artist being a non-local, get a grip would you. Creating division, us vs them, that’s just so wrong, and exactly feeding into the agenda that creates disharmony in this one and only Planar Earth we live upon. Byron Bay has always been known as the melting pot, the meeting place, Cavanbah. Everyone put your differences aside, embrace the spirituality of being in the sacred Eastern-most place of the most blessed and lucky country, and revel in the company of beautiful Earthlings from the One Mother Earth. Put some big testicles at the base and stop body-shaming us men. To me, Cape Byron has always represented a very feminine looking shape, a side-on profile of a bush, with the lighthouse representing the clitorus. Laugh if you will, but when I lived for several years at Crosby’s Caravan park, I’d regularly walk the length of Tallows Beach, and the first creek down, where the sewage treatment works flowed into, would often flow with warm yellow water. The next creek down, nearer to Suffolk, would often flow with warm red water from the tannins, traditionally a sacred women’s site. Then Broken Head was basically the arse-end, yet still a beautiful paradise, painted with palms to the golden sand, another excellent place to watch the migrating humpbacked whales. With Mt Warning, or Wollumbin, representing the traditional sacred male energy in the region, giving everyone “the bird” on the way into town, makes perfect sense. At least it’s not a statue of a man, or god, the light-bearer, put in a place called Queens, and called Lady Liberty. Give the artist a break, and be grateful for the publicity and opportunity to be merry. Ho ho ho.

    • Waste of mone,y and ridiculously fugly. And why on earth there?

      Why wasn’t there a community vote? Two people, really, get to decide for the whole community?

      This is ridiculous and IMO if it were pulled down tomorrow and replaced with some nice landscaping and plants that would be awesome. Send it up to Surfers Paradise, though I doubt even they’d want it.

  22. Expect more Queenslander tourists to come here for all the wrong reasons………..
    there are more than 150 Big sculptures around all of Australia,
    Coffs has the big Banana,
    Queensland has THE BIG PINEAPPLE, WOOMBYE, QLD
    THE BIG NED KELLY, GLENROWAN, VIC and so on…….
    Now Byron has The Big Dick!

  23. Why did they have to put anything there at all? The best sculptor, by a million miles, is Mother Nature. Leave it to her and save.

    It’s typical of Councils and committees everywhere, they are given a budget & if they don’t spend it all they won’t get the same amount next year. No creative thought goes into these projects.
    What a shame.

    • Well said, Neal! Trees on a roundabout soften all that bitumen & concrete. Visibility is not compromised by the tree trunk/s and other groundcover plants.

  24. Just seen the sculpture. Interesting, a rendition of the lighthouse blocking the real one. The birds look like terns . Appropriate as one terns at the roundabout I suppose. It’s better than the dismal attempt at street art in Lawson Lane AND at least it’s an Australian artist. The region is famous for whales, surfing, Indigenous culture, dolphins, art, counterculture…..and the lighthouse. I’m sure something more Byrony and not Melbourney could have been thought up. Not the Artist’s fault, he’s from Melbourne and given us a Melbourne sculpture. Byron decision makers perhaps should spend actual time in Byron. With eyes open.

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