Public art showcases talent around Ballina
By MARY MANN
THEY'VE been called strange, intriguing, unusual and odd.
But the locals like them.
Creative pieces of public art are popping up around the Ballina Shire, giving tourists something to gawk at and the locals something to talk about.
The art works are in line with a Ballina council policy aimed at increasing the number of public art works in the Shire.
New commercial, retail and tourist developments worth more than $1 million must include public art to the value of at least $15,000.
Ballina artist Joe Stark, who created the 'Twisted Sisters' outside the Westower Tavern at West Ballina, said it was good for the community.
"The more pieces of public art, the better," he said.
"They bring a bit of culture and a bit of something different to the town."
The Twisted Sisters, installed in December, are made of rusted mild steel, and are placed either side of the front entrance to the Westower Tavern.
Their faces are made from recycled stainless steel and they have lights inside them, which are turned on at night.
Mr Stark said they were 'cycloptic slug women who have come out of the Richmond River for a beer and a steak', and were worth about $5000 each.
"The idea just sort of came to me, hey," he said.
Over at Ballina Fair, a wooden art work is a focus point of the new outdoor food court, developed as part of the shopping centre's recent extensions and upgrades, completed in November last year.
It is called Groundswell and was created by Queensland artist Stephen Newton. The three vertical hardwood panels are each carved with a relief of the local river systems and Ballina coastline.
And at Alstonville, a metal sculpture is being constructed at the front of the United Protestant Association's new regional office building.
The sculpture, by a local artist, is of an elderly person and two youths, to represent the areas of work of the Association.
At Lennox Head, Wayne and Maree Lazarus have had a wooden wave piece constructed out the front of their new arcade off Ballina Street, '9092 Lennox'.
Ballina Shire Council's Public Art Policy states the art works are a way of attracting visitors and enriching people's experiences of Ballina.
'Tourism is a rapidly growing industry, particularly for visitors looking for a relaxed coastal feel,' the policy states.
'Ballina Shire Council recognises that the daily lives of residents and visitors can be enriched and enlivened through the presence of high quality works of art in the Shire.
'Council also recognises that a collection of such art will attract visitors, thereby contributing to economic development'.
Lennox Head resident Sally Hoolihan said the Northern Rivers area was well-known for it's thriving artistic community.
"There are so many artists in this area, it's nice to showcase them," she said.
"Some of them are quite intriguing, but it gives the area more of a cosmopolitan feel."