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April 17, 2021

Art panel: lighthouse sculpture artist should be given chance to finish the job

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Paul Bibby

Byron Council’s public art panel has recommended that the artist behind the much-discussed lighthouse sculpture on the Bayshore Drive roundabout be allowed to ‘finish the job’, at an estimated cost of up to $45,000.

During its meeting this week, the art panel considered two options for the future of the sculpture: allowing the artist to complete the work, or leaving it in its present state.

The lighthouse sculpture on the Bayshore Drive roundabout. Photo: Jeff Dawson

The Echo understands that the members of the panel were almost unanimous in their view that Melbourne artist Corey Thomas should be allowed to finish the sculpture – an opportunity he was reportedly denied owing to the short timeframe and workplace health and safety rules imposed on the project by Council staff.

This is despite Mr Thomas previously reportedly telling Council staff at the time that the sculpture was done. He has now volunteered his time to finish the job.

The panel acknowledged this offer, and has recommended to Council that it provide the necessary funding and support to allow this to happen. 

A final decision will be made at the full Council meeting in August.

In the art panel’s meeting agenda, Council staff note that although the artist is prepared to cover his own expenses, an estimated $32,000 to $42,000 will be required for ‘traffic control, site safety and supervision, the elevated work platform and contingencies’.

The upper estimate also includes the cost of an experienced arts consultant, who will undertake management of the project.

The report notes that the cost could increase if the work takes longer than expected, and that any funding would have to come from existing Council reserves rather than section 7.12 funds, which are specifically allocated for public art and other local beautification works.

Meanwhile, in a separate motion for this Thursday’s Council meeting, Cr Jan Hackett has called for the development of a comprehensive arts and cultural policy, to avoid the issues that occurred with the Bayshore Drive sculpture.

She has also called for $100,000 to be spent on hiring a specialist arts consultant or contractor to assist Council staff on large projects such as the lighthouse sculpture.

‘Spending in the arts continues to be budgeted in a seemingly ad hoc and reactive fashion,’ Cr Hackett said.

‘It would appear that Council is attempting to develop and co-ordinate their engagement in the arts using non-specialist in-house staff and without a budget.

‘It’s an impossible ask and yet another example of the arts [sector] being seen as non-core business – simply icing on the cake’.

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  1. Extra money needs to be set aside to pay the artist for his work as a guarantee of his professionalism,
    as the artwork will be laughed at when the artist is long gone.
    Any derision or humour should be directed at Byron Council, for them being disconnected with the public as to what art is, and not the artist. To not pay the artist, will be the start of blame put upon the artist.

  2. How about a simple coastal garden with a pandanas so we can once again enjoy the uninterrupted view of the lighthouse as you drive into Byron.

  3. No more money should be spent on this work…the last minute change of materials to aluminium ensures that it will peacefully corrode away in our coastal environment and within 5 years will most probably need funding to be removed as it disintegrates and becomes dangerous.

  4. No more money should be spent on this… the last minute change the artist made from using stainless steel to aluminium ensures that the structure will corrode away in our coastal environment and within 5 years or so council will need funding to take it down as it disentegrates and becomes dangerous…

  5. This is simply good money after bad. This project was poorly conceived and executed and will not be improved by throwing more money at it! Our council does not have the resources to sustain such folly.

    In the immortal word of Robert Zimmerman, “It is never too late for redemption!”

    Sell it off and plant an indigenous tree. The community will roar with appreciation!!

  6. I think the artist should be allowed to finish his work…it looked amazing with lots more birds flying around it.

  7. Agree TOTALLY with Lin….Carolyn and Stewart PLEASE I beg of council…TAKE IT DOWN. It is such an eye sore & revolting to boot. SO UN- BYRON….or is it a sign of tacky things to come. ??? Plant some native trees around with maybe some Aboriginal sculptures.

  8. PLEASE!!! No more money should be spent on this… the last minute change the artist made from using stainless steel to aluminium ensures that the structure will corrode away in our coastal environment and within 5 years or so council will need funding to take it down as it disintegrates and becomes dangerous…

  9. If anything it will potentially cause a traffic accident as people look and stare in order to work out its meaning!

  10. Has anyone heard of metal fatigue? Aluminium is particularly susceptible.
    After constant movement fractures appear and parts can break away.!!!!! Just saying !!!!!!

  11. Please remove it, it is an eyesore and cultural travesty. This is the perfect spot for an Arakwal artwork and the money should go to Arakwal artists. So much more appropriate and meaningful both for Byron residents and visitors. It’s not too late to fix this massive and cultural blunder. Pleading with council to act decisively and make it right.


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