It’s saddening to once again watch Byron Bay show its dark side in rejecting the Bayshore Drive roundabout sculpture.
Our town appears to be thick on the ground with philistines, wowsers, and Facebook trolls who appear to take a visceral delight in savaging a hapless artist and his work.
The local Facebook pages are littered with faux outrage, the ‘step aside I’m an art critic and I know good art when I see it’ types, which has seen trolling of this artist taken to an absurd, vicious, and hurtful level. I’m amazed they haven’t placed him in stocks and organised a ISIS-style public stoning.
In the past two decades, the world has watched in horror as first the Taliban and then ISIS dynamite and tore down millennia-old works of art from depths of our civilisation. Hey Taliban, come on down, your cousins live here.
They say that Guy De Maupassant, the 19th century French writer, had lunch every day in the restaurant at the base of the Eiffel Tower. He famously remarked that he hated the structure so much, it was the one place in Paris where he could safely dine without having to look at it. Today, 130 years later, it remains one of the world’s most loved public sculptures and the symbol of Paris.
Ditto those naysayers who hated Jackson Pollack’s Blue Poles when Australia’s National Gallery acquired it in 1973 for $3m but now it’s worth an estimated $350m.
Back in 2001, I thought we had reached a low point when we drove Bob Dylan out of town and into the welcoming arms of Ballina. Bob had stayed in Byron Bay before and had specifically requested to play here. But no, our evergreen nimby hippies have to be in bed by 8pm and couldn’t bear even the noise of an electric razor within 20 metres, never mind allow a performance from an iconic 60s rock legend.
As a community, do we really want to be famous for banning Bob Dylan and tearing down a work of art after a Facebook pile-on? Could we not even wait one year to see if we could fall in love with this sculpture, just one year, just a little bit?
Not satisfied with publicly shaming and defaming this poor unfortunate artist to within an inch of his life, some councillors propose to do an even better job of destroying the man: break his art up into little pieces and flog it off by the kilo.
This is truly shameful. At the very least our community should show some regard for the moral and artistic ownership that still lies with this artist.
This work has an intrinsic artistic value and therefore some commercial value. In my view, if Council has no further use of it, it must be disposed of in accordance with standard local government procedures for the disposal of any valuable property including works of art. This should include disposal in its entirety by public tender or expressions of interest.
C’mon Byron Shire, we can do better than this. I beseech Council to desist with its removal for three months or at least until such time as other parties can tender for the sculpture or pay for its removal as an entire work of art. You never know; after its enormous success with the Bob Dylan concert, Ballina Council may even buy it.