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Byron Shire
March 3, 2024

A memento of folly?

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The artist’s impression of Memento Aestates that was destined for Railway Park.

Paul Bibby

What better place could there be for a giant seedpod, than tucked away in a nice, green garden bed?

But what if said seedpod is a giant steel art installation that’s costing you $80,000?

In the latest chapter in the saga of the Shire’s homeless sculpture, it now appears Byron Council’s latest public art experiment, Memento Aestes, may end up in a garden bed next to the old Byron train station.

It is, by The Echo’s count, the eleventh site considered by the Council for the artwork, including various spots around the Byron Bay foreshore, the Sandhills Estate, the Byron Bay rail corridor, and six separate sites around the river in Brunswick Heads.

The selection of Railway Park is a return, of sorts, to the original location proposed for the sculpture.

Featuring a three-metre high representation of a pandanus seedpod, Memento Aestes was initially to have pride of place in Railway Park.

However, a combination of issues surrounding the materials used in construction, and a major redevelopment of the park saw this location abandoned by both Council and the private consultants it has hired to help with the project.

Two years on, after an extensive review of site options, the park is back in favour – though this time the sculpture will be somewhat further from the action.

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

Tucked away

‘Following this review of site options, and taking into account the constraints, approvals and consultation required for the alternatives, it is recommended that the garden bed in front of the Countrylink Building in Railway Park be the location for Memento Aestates,’ Council’s Community Projects Officer, Joanne McMurty said in her report to last week’s meeting of the Public Art Panel.

‘Should Railway Park not be the preferred site for the work, significant stakeholder consultation and further approval processes would need to be undertaken to adequately inform decision-making regarding any of the above high profile sites.

‘In addition, a negative variation to the contract will be required in order to allow sufficient budget to be retained by Council for future installation of the artwork.’

The matter will come before tomorrow’s full Council meeting for final approval. 

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