‘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.
‘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.’