VISION: The full moon silhouettes one of the birds that adorn the Lighthouse sculpture.
VISION: The full moon silhouettes one of the birds that adorn the Lighthouse sculpture. Scott Ferguson

Why Byron's disco dong may be doomed

CHAIR of the Byron Shire Council's Public Art Panel, Councillor Sarah Ndiaye has written exclusively to the Byron Shire News admitting the controversial lighthouse sculpture on Bayshore Drive may be doomed.

The letter comes following Monday's meeting of the Public Art Panel.

In her letter Councillor Ndiaye also urges locals to take a breath and calmly await the outcome of the next scheduled meeting of council where the sculpture's fate will finally become clear.

In the meantime some locals have taken to attaching flags and teddy bears to the structure with the councillor warning perpetrators they may well be costing ratepayers even more money with expensive road closures and equipment now needed to safely remove the unwanted decorations.

Councillor Ndiaye writes:

IT'S sculpture time, and I'm not just talking about any public art, I'm talking about the now world famous Lighthouse sculpture at the gateway to Byron Bay, affectionately known as the 'disco dong'.

This magic piece of art has attracted more mud slinging than West Byron, Club Med and McDonalds combined.

Never before has a single issue united so many in yelling and throwing stones- if only all those stones could fill some of our potholes.

Over the next few weeks the sculpture will again become the centre of the Byron Yoni-verse - the Public Art Panel has recommended the work be completed and councillors will have the opportunity to seal it's fate on August 22 at our next council meeting.

Will it live or die? Will Corey Thomas return to finish what he started or will the angry mob get their way?

If he does return Corey would be donating his time but there is estimated costs of between $25,000 and $45,000 which includes traffic control and hire of equipment.

With a bit of luck, there's even the slight chance it could not cost the ratepayer a penny.

To be honest, I'm aware (the sculpture) is probably doomed. All I ask is that you lower your pitchforks and make some room for some civil discourse and debate; there's a lot to this story.

Remember some kindness- behind all this is a human being, an artist, who was selected fairly from a variety of submissions.

As a council we've learnt a lot, but this whole process must have taken an enormous toll on Corey.

Just because he doesn't live here doesn't mean he's not entitled to express his love for the place and like many of us he has been coming here since he was a kid.

There were so many reasons the project didn't go as planned and these will unfold over the coming weeks, but what probably set the project back most was the angry mob who felt it was okay to yell at and abuse the artist while he was installing the piece.

You may hate it, but there are people out there who like the work and others who it's grown on.

Currently there's not much room for them to have their say, let alone for the artist to have his say.

Please stop the civil disobedience of throwing your stuffed toys and flags over the sculpture's mantle.

Not only is this dangerous and deeply disrespectful but it will cost our dearly beloved ratepayer many a precious penny to remove these objects, pennies that people have told us loudly and clearly they would rather see spent on filling potholes.

Some say the work is not in line with community values- but does every work have to be be a dolphin or a whale?

I thought we were a fairly curious and open bunch who welcomed things that were a little outside the box?

So, 'light your torches and go' if you must, but remember the fire you ignite may burn away more than you wished for.

Let's hope it's not our kindness and creativity." 

-Byron Shire Councillor, Sarah Ndiaye



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