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Byron Shire
May 8, 2021

Artist given the chance to ‘finish’ Byron’s ‘Disco Dong’

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Paul Bibby

It took them nearly three hours of debate, but Byron Council has finally come up with a solution to the Bayshore Drive sculpture debacle.

Stick some more metal birds on it.

Ok, the resolution at yesterday’s council meeting was a bit more nuanced than that, but essentially the council has decided to give Melbourne artist Corey Thomas an opportunity to ‘finish’ the infamous metal structure.

And that could well mean more metal birds.

At least this time the council’s public art panel and the other councillors will be keeping an eagle eye on the process.

‘This will be so closely scrutinised by the public art panel,’ the chair of the public art panel, Cr Sarah Ndiaye said during a marathon debate at the issue during Thursday’s council meeting.

‘If they’re not completely happy that it will be better than it is now it won’t go ahead.’

Cr Ndiaye told the meeting that Mr Thomas ‘deserved an opportunity to finish the work’ because he had been:

  • given delayed access to the site
  • subjected to between 50 and 100 insults per day from locals driving past and
  • given an unrealistic timeline

In the end a bare majority of councillors agreed, passing a resolution subject to the matter being reconsidered by council prior to any actual work being done.

Labor’s Cr Spooner was one of those calling for council to cut its losses and leave the sculpture as it is.

‘This debate is a demonstration that we have learnt nothing from this process,’ Cr Spooner said.

‘What you’re proposing is throwing good money after bad. We are now proposing to spend up to another $45,000, which we don’t have.

‘The question is, what are we going to take money away from?’

The staff report in relation to the matter indicated that between $32,000-$45,000 would be required to complete the work, including traffic control, site safety and the use of an elevated work platform.

However, the resolution by council limits any additional spending on the sculpture to $2,000 – the cost of the artists travel and accommodation.

The reduced budget appears to stem from the fact that the artist has volunteered to do the additional work for free.

The council also heard that there are left over developer contribution funds – known as section 7.12 funds – which could be used to fund the additional works, rather than taking it from money for roads and other basic infrastructure.

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  1. What is wrong with the public art sculpture at Bayshore Dive is not the sculpture itself. It is the contrast to the surroundings around it at Bayshore Drive. The Roundabout is a busy intersection for cars and vehicles of all sorts and suddenly in their hustle and bustle and travels, an art piece of intellectuality, something devised from the active thinking mind and of university learning appears in the roadway. It is the ordinary, the vehicle and its driver and passenger, meets the extraordinary, the art and the artistic, in the middle of a road when the driver is trying to get to a destination. The contrast for the driver is too confronting, too futuristic, and too intellectual. So this sculpture will attract graffiti and swear words from the ignorant of art and negative news, and that shows that the people are of ordinary mind and education.
    If a futuristic designer designed a new leaf that was so unlike any leaf of the billions of natural trees just where would he put it? He would not put it on a traffic island roundabout. He would put it in a forest of leaves to compare it with the natural leaves of Mother Nature and the people then would not be hostile.
    The place where the sculpture should have gone was at the entrance to the Roundhouse Art Gallery at Ocean Shores high on the hill. We are so out of step with art, Council and the people here could not decide on that Art Gallery and it was converted into house blocks and sold too cheaply for real estate. We are not art people. We need to be educated into art of the higher mind and Byron Council are not educating the people about art. They scrapped the Roundhouse Art Gallery. And now they put this magnificent cultural edifice in the middle of the road for the ordinary motorist to sneer at it. What the Dickens? “Bah Humbug” said Scrooge.

    • I would rather experience a form of art from a heart based creative artist, rather than a self righteous intellectual individual. It is not art, it is cookie cutting tinsel put together like the crap from IKEA.

  2. Perhaps parking revenue from the Byron shire could contribute to this project. I myself could contribute $112 from a parking fine received over the xmas hols, for parking at my local northern shores beach and not adhering to (or even noticing) the newly erected parallel parking signs. Had I been able to get into Byron beaches, perhaps this could have been avoided! Highway (or once sleepy village) robbery!

  3. Just leave the bloody thing as is and spend money on a new toilet/ change block at Clarks Beach which is disgusting.

  4. Use that money to dismantel it & replace it with something low key …
    Also why not update the sign welcoming folks to Byron, a more appropriate sign is..
    …. Chill out, Respect & Enjoy…

    • That sign needs some love. Broken pavers in front of it are shoddy. Also in a dangerous place. I saw a group park on the western side of the bridge then walk across the non pedestrian side to get a selfie

  5. If the extra wings enables it to take flight and migrate to another shire, then it may well be worth the extra ratepayers’ funds..

  6. I do agree. It’s nor friendly or inspiring. How did it pass council scutiny. Was there any? I find it blinds me when driving into Byron.

    It’s overbaring when driving through the roundabout.

    With all the incredibly talented artists in the Byron shire and surrounds; why wasn’t a local given the comission? Someone how has insight into the consciouness of Byron.

    It’s so far of the mark.

  7. Fix the dam potholes & leave moby’s dick alone. While we are on that round a bout why dud it take See Civil so long every time I drove past there were around 6 men watching 1 work. I notice they sped up slightly so they could have Christmas holidays . Is See Civil owned by someone on the Council or what. I noticed another civils company built an enire bridge over the hwy on the Gold Coast in less than half time it took to build a little round a bout.

  8. I haven’t seen the reportedly phallic object, but it sounds like a very poorly planned event in any case, and a very unattractive piece of work. But for local commuters to yell out insults at the artist as they drive by in their own chunks of metal? That is just so cruel. Artists do their best; they simply can’t please everyone. Have mercy, drivers! The problem seems to be that council went ahead without seeking proper public opinion prior to erecting (ahem) the thing. But the poor artist! Be kind, people. And someone do some guerilla planting pleeeaaassseeee…. a luscious, green, vine-covered phallus would be better than a blinding shiny one.

  9. I think its great! Only that it is fair comment to only spend so much on these things vs some other more essential services.

  10. The original concept, as far as could be deduced from the one artist rendering I saw, was that it was to be covered in birds flying all around it. I thought we were a nation of ‘give a person a go’ mentality. I’m all for giving the artist a go. I think it could look very good. If it is in the wrong place, we may have to move it at some stage but let’s wait and see.

  11. For goodness sake people get a life. Leave it to be finished and move on. Far more important things to get your knickers in a knot about. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking it’s an interesting addition to the landscape.

  12. Soften the harsh metal effect by growing vines through the centre on the “lighthouse” section and let the birds fly around this- a “greener look” for the entrance to town

    • I agree. I’m from the Ballina shire and feel sorry for the people of Byron who pay rates and in the other hand Byron council mismanage money. The roads in Byron are third world to say the least along with many other things. Byron council is one of the poorest councils in NSW. They need to be sacked.

  13. Given that Byron is inundated with Queensland vehicles on weekends/most days of the week, perhaps Disco Dong can be relocated north – to the Gold Coast, with an arrow and sign reading “this way to Byron”.

    • Just reading your obvious expression of gratitude to the enormous economic benefit visiting QLDERS bring to the Byron Shire every year….
      Don’t mention it!??

  14. Unfortunately, it’s just in the wrong place. In a city somewhere it would be fitting & appreciated…. I live in sunrise and see it everyday, in another spot it would work, but not there. In all my conversations, personally I have not met anyone who enjoys, but unfortunately the contrast. Material used, the blinding it causes, etc, not good. Use the money, dismantle it & plant some nice palms… problem solved…

  15. 3 hours spent debating over an art piece that most locals would be quiet annoyed to think we are paying you to do that, I think if you asked the local people they would not put a distraction like that in the middle of a road. It’s almost a hazard. Why wasn’t it a local artist? Also losing a friends father to a pothole (whom worked on the council) upsets me more to think this is your 3 hour debate. We are a pretty organic town and that shimmering piece of art is a bad reflection on the council of our town. Maybe fix the road near the primary school, 25 years I’ve been diving and it’s still a disgrace and costly in many ways.

  16. really…when has anything of significant artistic merit ever been put in the middle of a roundabout. To obstruct the view of the actual lighthouse with this blinding welcome to tinsel town was arrogant enough but now to throw more money at it when we have young people in crisis and others living on our streets?

  17. Can someone with a bull bar four wheel drive or truck evidently bowl it over in the middle of the night is usually best

  18. Art is Art. Everyone will have a different view of the sculpture itself. It is the process I object to. The flagrant incompetence of Byron Shire Council, as usual. The arrogance of these people is beyond comprehension Flashing money around without being organised. Whacking it up at the busiest time of year. ONly now it the art panel having an eagle eye on the process. Why didn’t they do this in the first place. Now they are going to mess about with it again. It makes me sick to the stomach when there are so many other issues that need addressing.

  19. A tree would have been best
    But I got used to the Big Dildo
    The additional metal “birds” have detracted from this erection.
    They look like razor wire.

  20. WTF, it’s a driving hazard before it’s anything else, I’ll repeat, a DRIVING HAZARD!

    It distracts one from what one should be doing whilst driving ie watching the road and the other road users.

    Does anyone yet know how many close calls can been attributed to drivers being distracted by the thing?

    Plant something green and welcoming in its stead, I’m happy to second a Coolamon tree (Syzygium moorei).

  21. Pull it down and give the money back to the basic council duties. Roads, park maintenance, bike paths, you know the stuff Council is meant to do. Maybe use the money to let the Byron Bay Primary Teachers off the hook for Council’s outrageous action to charge them $110 just to park at the school – to teach – OUR KIDS. The lowest, meanest council act yet. But by all means let’s wax on about the sculpture.

  22. The Public Art Panel have stuffed the whole thing up, and are still trying to waste ratepayer money. They’re getting it from the poor Public School teachers, making them pay for their own parking to teach the kids, and then to fund further sculpture on this already failed, blinding phallus.

    Please don’t let them near the Railway Park. All that park needs is the drinkers actually moved on permanently and the people will use it. Cheap. No $80,000 sculptures please.


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