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Byron Shire
May 12, 2021

Byron’s silver peril

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Paul Davies, Suffolk Park

I write in support of Ali Nankivell’s call for everyone to take a cold shower over Byron’s latest cultural asset, Corey Thomas’s sculpture on Ewingsdale Road.

People from Melbourne will recall the saga of the ‘yellow peril’ (Vault by Ron Robertson Swann). It cost $70,000 and was also greeted with general outrage in 1980.

Dubbed ‘the yellow peril’ by a hostile press, the sculpture was shifted around, like an unwanted foster child, before finally finding a home in the Centre for Contemporary Arts on the Yarra’s Southbank. It is now regarded as an important local icon.

The point about site-specific sculpture is that it’s meant to evoke a reaction. (Did some one say ‘Dada’?) Irrespective of how it came about, Thomas’s work has already guaranteed its place in our local cultural history simply by virtue of the passionate public response generated.

It has provoked a typically articulate and energetic pushback with reports of some of the birds being stolen and a large plastic phallus making a brief appearance. People are actively taking part in its ongoing physical evolution.

Let’s remember that Gustave’s Eiffel Tower evoked similar outrage when it first started appearing over Paris’s strict five-storey height limit with demands for it to be immediately torn down. What about the hostile reaction to Gough Whitlam’s purchase of Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles, now worth many tens of millions.

Mullumbimby has a wooden pelican, Ballina its plastic prawn; where was the protest when that went up! On Ross Lane it’s a rusting giant surfboard; even Mooball has the Big Motor Bike. Let’s just chill a bit; maybe one day we’ll look back and wonder what all the fuss was about.


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