Sculpture blowout to cost council

BOAT BLOWOUT: The new art piece in Woodlark St will have its scaffolding removed tomorrow as Lismore City Council prepares for the unveiling of the massive sculpture.
BOAT BLOWOUT: The new art piece in Woodlark St will have its scaffolding removed tomorrow as Lismore City Council prepares for the unveiling of the massive sculpture. Marc Stapelberg

UPDATE: THE Northern Star's Facebook thread relating to this story has been inundated with comments from locals with their thoughts on the subject.

The overwhelming majority have said they believe the artwork to be unveiled on Woodlark Street tomorrow is an "eyesore" and a "waste of money.

Chelsea Freeman said she could "appreciate the historical side" of the structures idea but she didn't think it's shown very well and the message behind the artwork wasn't conveyed well enough.

"Not many people even know what this sculpture is about. No one is going to appreciate it as it's taken up car park spaces & it's not that appealing to the eye of the public. I don't know why the council doesn't ask the local public what their thoughts are about these sorts of things first, it only upsets everyone & the money could be used on much more important things like public toilets & fixing the roads properly. I can see this getting vandalised & climbed upon which then will be causing safety issues," she said.

Another commenter, Issi Brent, said: "It is a shame that this piece of art was sourced from interstate when we have so much talent here and the budget blowout is outrageous..."

Dylan Bolt said: "I think that the car spaces are more important than the sculpture. I also come close to hitting the guard rails they put up for it for me that's a bit dangerous and so it's taking up car spaces that are really needed AND taking up part of the road in its process and that round a bout is really busy in peek hour."

Martin Oliver said he loved seeing art in and around the CBD, but due to the space this sculpture took up, he thought it would have been better on the river bank or somewhere else other than in a street where parking was already scarce.

However, Nikki Ribbon showed some support for the sculpture: "I think that its very creative, the person who made it obviously it took alot of time. I have to agree that public money should be conserved at the moment in times of financial uncertainty. As householder managers we don't spend our money on unneeded items, we don't capitalize. This will engage tourist who visit Lismore but I don't believe they will travel to Lismore just to see this. If you want to invest in Lismore build a artistic skirmish park with blockade walls, domes etc etc that will attract tourist and invest in our communities. The key word here is Prioritize."

Claudie Frock continued: "I think Public Art is important on many levels for community. I'm sure the artist as well as number of other people gained employment from this project. I think community consultation is also important and from some of the previous comments I can see that a number of people feel that they would have liked to know more about this project and it's planning. As an artist and arts worker I feel it is important for artist's and the teams of people around them who assist in construction, design etc, to be able to have gainful employment, however I do understand other community members concerns also regarding consultation, placement and use of resources. I hope sometime in the future our region has the space and place in the form of a new Lismore Regional Gallery building to display all the different creative endeavors of our regions artists and makers. I personally believe that investment in arts and culture will make our region a more attractive place to visit thereby increasing our tourism sector, economic climate and more importantly our communities health and well being."

And a final comment from Casey Underhill: "So clearly the public who is actually expected to shop here wasn't consulted about this before it happened because if they were, judging by all these comments, it wouldn't have even happened. Good work Lismore big wigs you've just spend a giant load of money on an eyesore that's going to contribute to people still leaving Lismore to shop and get work since parking is useless in town and the shops keep closing down. Really not a smart move for the town at all."


ORIGINAL: LISMORE now has its own version of Clive Palmer's ill-fated Titanic 2, a strange looking skeletal boat sculpture to be unveiled quietly tomorrow - three years late, and costing three times its original budget.

The sculpture, a copper-boned hull dubbed Alternating Current, was initially funded via a $96,688 Federal Government grant as the public art component of the $4 million Woodlark St upgrade.

But the project blew out to $291,500 after the boat spent three years languishing in a shed thanks to unforeseen complications.

Originally it was intended by its Queensland creators Paul D Johnson and Gail Mason to sit atop the electricity substation on Woodlark St.

The work referred to Lismore's history as a town which grew up on the river trade and was built on a floodplain.

The artistic vision was that the substation box would appear as "cargo" within the hull of the boat. Another feature was during a major flood, the boat would appear to float.

Unfortunately, the grand idea ran aground when safety concerns arose over possible oil leakage from the substation.

The project might have sailed on if network provider Essential Energy had agreed to fund an upgrade of the substation, but they refused.

Lismore City Council was instead forced to pay for the construction of a purpose-built platform at the western end of Woodlark St, near Molesworth St.

Today, Lismore's own "boat skeleton" will have lighting and interpretive panels installed, with scaffolding due to come down tomorrow.

Lismore City Council will foot the bill for the cost blowout.

Mayor Jenny Dowell said it was "regrettable" that Essential Energy had refused to fund the substation upgrade, but the council was committed to the project as part of the upgrade of Woodlark St, and if it had abandoned the project it would have been forced to return the money.

"This was about injection of funding into regional cities to keep jobs; perhaps now in more frugal times we might look at it differently," she said.

Public art was often controversial, she added.

"That's the nature of public art - it was certainly never going to be bland," she said.

"Even disregarding the cost blowout, I would have expected some kind of debate in the community."

Topics:  lismore city council

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