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Byron Shire
May 12, 2021

Council commissions an $80k sculpture for railway park

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Just months after the infamous ‘disco dong’ sculpture was unveiled on the Bayshore Dr roundabout, Byron Council has plans for another pricey piece of public art.

An artist’s impression of ‘Memento Aestates’ by Giovani Veronesi, which is set to adorn Byron Bay’s Railway Park.

According to council documents, Memento Aestates by Brisbane artist Giovannie Veronesi is set to stand proudly in Byron Bay’s redeveloped Railway Park.

The documents say it is to be unveiled in October, but Echonetdaily understands there may be a delay of some months.

Much like the Bayshore Dr work, the sculpture has been commissioned by Council’s public art panel.

But this time the panel is forking out $80,000 for the work, dwarfing the $55,000 spent on the much derided ‘Lighthouse’. Funding for the work will come from section 94 development contributions and not rate payers funds.

It is understood there will be more professional oversite of the process this time around, with the architects involved in the redevelopment of Railway Park working with the artist to ensure that what is delivered accurately reflects the concept drawings.

Some, such as former Byron Mayor Jan Barham, say that the indigenous artwork which adorns the walls of the Railway Park rotunda  is far a better reflection of community values, and are questioning whether the community should have been consulted before Memento Aestates was formally commissioned.

‘It appears that council is again imposing a costly piece of infrastructure on the community without any consultation,’ Ms Barham said.

‘I’m a supporter of public art, and as the councillor who initiated the public art process for Byron Shire Council, I’m disappointed that the priority to engage the community in the decision making has been ignored.

‘My preference for Railway Park would be to retain the significant Aboriginal artwork on the rotunda and the building that stands to inform and challenge the march of consumerism and destruction of biodiversity.’

The plan to build Memento Aestates will come before Byron council’s first full meeting of the year on February 28.

Echonetdaily is awaiting a response from Council.


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16 COMMENTS

  1. What is in train for Railway Park in public art?
    This latest design in art surely was not mentioned to the public or them asked to comment so it must be a bit of a sleeper.
    What about planting a tree instead of some fluted piece of concrete that is non-descript in shape. Just what is it? It is Memento Aestates. And what is that? A memento is an object kept as a reminder of a person or event. An Aestate is an inspirational resource focused on interior design and architecture. So it seems Memento Aestates does not represent anything concrete in meaning when it is concrete in physical form.
    We have one inappropriate piece of sculpture at the Bayshore Drive roundabout that is for the birds from an artist in Melbourne.
    Now the latest mass is for Railway Park by a Brisbane artist. Are there no local sculptors?
    Is there no poetry in this town named after Lord Byron. What about a Poa Tree? What about some romance and joy of poetry planted in a park that was once a busy station of comings and goings and arrivals and departures.
    Many a loved one stepped on the train and waved goodbye to their love and blew a kiss to the one that had been there for them for a fleeting weekend in a place named after the romantic Byron.
    One of Lord Byron’s greatest poems was ‘When We Two Parted’
    When we two parted
    In silence and tears,
    Half broken-hearted
    To sever for years,
    Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
    Colder thy kiss;
    Truly that hour foretold
    Sorrow to this.

    • Sorry Len but Byron Bay is not named after Lord Byron but after Admiral Byron who was a mentor of ‘Captain’ Cook and the uncle of the poet Lord Byron

  2. A few weeks ago, I posted on these pages that the installation of a giant parking meter on the Bayshore Drive roundabout might be a better reflection of community values. Might I suggest that the proposed parking meter would also work in the redeveloped Railway Park.

    Clearly, the spectacle of a giant parking meter in Railway would trigger a heated debate in the local community and among art lovers. Crucially, this sculpture would be girded by a loop of irony, which is the great self-sustaining trick of contemporary art. On one hand, a giant parking meter responds to a range of local issues by drawing on the innovations of the historical and neo avant-gardes. On the other hand, the proposed parking meter winks to the Mokany brothers, who built the 50-foot-high Big Merino in Goulburn, the Big Prawn at Ballina and the Big Oyster at Taree.

    I am a firm supporter of public art. Sadly, problems arise when a sculpture is imposed on a community by a local council who don’t know much about art but know what they like. Perhaps the council might hand the selection process over to a panel of experts drawn from the local university.

    Failing that, I am a trained local artist and will gladly install a giant parking at $80,000. I guarantee this game changer will attract global attention and initiate a serious conversation in the art world. It will also allow me funds for paid parking

  3. Firstly art that is in keeping with what Byron Bay is about would be a great start, secondly art that was created by one of our many amazingly creative local artists ( or even a collaboration of artists ) would be awesome, thirdly to run it our rather out spoken community I think is a very good idea, especially after the last debacle. May be address the issue of the many homeless people at Railway park might be wiser? Fulfil a need first rather than a want?!

  4. The Byron Environment Centre has the funding and intention to renovate the indigenous art on the rotunda. None of it provided by council.

  5. I am bewildered how Council can be sue Fi g any money as I am told there is none to find a campaign to address illegal camping or night rangers. We need to get things under control first. There are fires on main beach, doofs at scared women’s sites. Locals are so frustrated with campers outside their properties or regularity parked up in the same spots. A Swiss couple had hung two loads of washing between picnic tables on main beach. South American guys at Broken Head Reserve has digs off the lead. We are being totally abused and yet it is not being taken seriously.
    We have the best art in the world it costs nothing it’s nature all around us. What on earth is going on.

  6. We have some great local sculptors, many have given works to the community before. I’m thinking of Jules Hunt, Noel Hart, Greg Bowering, Suvira Macdonald and of course John Dalhsen’s work that council spent $10,000 fencing off from the public and then had to remove because borer was eating it away.

    Surely if Sculpture is going to be funded by council local artists should at least be considered alongside national and international colleagues.

  7. I think a statue of Niccolò Machiavelli would be the most appropriate given the extent of the manipulation behind “the Master Plan” this council is prepared to inflict upon us.

  8. What do we value in the place we live in ?
    What do we remember of places we visit?
    Can we create a public space that is authenic to this very place, that reflects its history, present and suggests a way forward, maybe pointing to a new paradigm? A space that includes a one world vision deeply anchored in the past.
    I like to look at railway park in its entirety. It would be wonderful to create a place of cultural significance where everyone feels comfortable to be and connect with each other and with the land. A place for locals and visitors. More trees, as one of the features, well selected and placed would certainly benefit everybody and the planet.

  9. Looks like a potentially “dangerous”, hard edged structure. Surely Council would be concerned about their public art piece being used as a bashing post by some “past it” warriors. Liability issues?

    Why not an interactive piece made of recycled beach plastic…with no sharp edges?

    And this time, could the Arts Panel please consider consulting some of the talented public artists in our shire? I’m sure many might not want to be the creator of this next bun fight…but their expertise would be most helpful to the process.

  10. Goodness me, how can this be happening again! It’s not April 1st! How does this piece represent this area and its values and why again is the tender not for a local artist. Then again, is this just another sign of the disintegration of said values as the area is subsumed by consumption and consumerism.

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