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’.
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.