Public art work needs a home

Paul Bibby

Byron Council is struggling to find a home for its latest public art installation – a giant, metal pandanus seed pod named Memento Aestates.

The brainchild of Brisbane artist Gio Veronesi, the artwork will cost $80,000 when completed – considerably more than the ill-fated ‘Disco Dong’.

The artist’s impression of ‘Memento Aestes’ – a sculpture commissioned by Byron Council which now needs a home. Image Byron Council

However, it appears that the sculpture is not a natural fit for many of the available locations in the Byron CBD.

The work was initially set to be installed in Railway Park, but a combination of delays in determining its form and materials, and changes to the layout of the park lead this location to be abandoned.

Council and its specialist consultant, Plummer and Smith, then explored the possibility of including the seed pod as part of its planned redevelopment of the Byron Rail Corridor.

But this plan was knocked on head by the consultant responsible for the corridor project, Catalyst Heritage Architects (CHA).

‘The proposed public art project appears to have little obvious interpretive connection or meaning relevant to the highly significant historical rail activities of the former Byron Bay rail corridor,’ CHA told Council.

‘Accordingly, the current location nominated for this Public Art piece (in the middle of the former rail corridor) is assessed as intrusive and will result in an adverse impact on heritage values.

‘It does not seem to be visibly connected to any of the former rail activities. If it must proceed, a location associated with the existing vegetation/wetlands may represent a more suitable location.’

There was a plan to put the $80,000 sculpture off to the side of the corridor, but this appeared to be the equivalent of putting a painting in the gallery carpark.

‘This small area is dominated by existing trees, the adjacent car park, and an existing padmount transformer,’ Council’s Community Project Officer Joanne McMurtry said in the agenda to this week’s Public Art Committee meeting.

Finally Council and the various consultants have found a location they agree upon – the sandhills estate.

Located on the eastern edge of the CBD, the estate is slated for a redevelopment project including the installation of an all-abilities skatepark.

‘The Public Art Panel has previously supported this as a possible location for Memento Aestates and it is recommended the panel restates its preference for Sandhills Estate precinct as the future site for this artwork,’ Ms McMurtry said in the report.

‘Discussions are underway with stakeholders in preparation for the design phase of the Sandhills project.’

Assuming the Sandhills site gets the green light from the public art committee, it will come before next month’s full council meeting for a vote.

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5 responses to “Public art work needs a home”

  1. Ken says:

    Have you considered, what a wonderful start it would make for an artificial reef ?
    No it would probably scare the Whales.
    Who is wasting all of this rate money ?

  2. Marianne Melnikas says:

    OMG!!! Sorry I find this so called piece of “art” ugly and not an asset to Byron and its surrounds.
    I suppose it is meant to draw visitors to come and admire, I doubt very much it will do this, I only see vandals attacking this with their spray cans.
    It is sad Council has not consulted with the youth of Byron and asked them what they think would be an iconic art work for where they live.
    To many ‘adults’ ignore the sage thoughts of our under 25’s, they have lost sight of the fact these are the Councillors and Leaders of the future, just give them the opportunity of input.

  3. That seems like putting the cart before the horse! How was this piece commissioned if there wasn’t a location already decided on? Surely the proposed location of a large piece of sculpture should be decided on so the artist can design it with that in mind, right at the start! Ridiculous situation & waste of a large amount of money. Plus I don’t think the design looks anything like a pandanus fruit, which looks more like a pineapple. There is no seed pod. The seed is inside each portion of the fruit.

  4. BornxRaised says:

    You know what would be a great to see is some actual leadership from some real green councillors in Byron Shire. The amount of money Byron Council pulls in from rates, parking metres etc is vastly greater than Tweed and Ballina shire council yet their planning and leadership puts Byron to shame.

    Instead of wasting money on pointless installations in Byron to keep the ‘new’ ratepayers and tourists happy why not fix the roads, buy up land for conservation, subsidise affordable housing? No that would make too much sense. It has taken Byron Council over 30 years to make a bypass and they are still stuffing it up.

    Mayor Richardson is a joke and he came for two reasons: the lifestyle and the limelight. Instead on us electing out of town wannabes we should be electing locals that actually care. Ballina Mayor David Wright is a local and does a way better job. Not too mention some of the Tweed Councillors.

    Watching the Byron Council is like watching the LNP.

    P.S. hopefully you guys actually post my comment this time. Seems to be hit n miss atm. So much for free speech. Note this is the second time I’m posting this.

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