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Silver Fern joins Yatala Light and Rusty Chicken in Gold Coast’s latest expensive sculpture dilemma

A series of ‘silver fern’ sculptures that could cost the Gold Coast more than $1 million are the latest in a series of costly public art headaches facing the city council. .

A report to the Transportation Infrastructure Commission recommends that Congress spend $500,000 to move the 11-meter-tall sculpture, which has been in storage for five years, to the Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens.

The report also recommends that Congress spend $41,000 annually over the next 30 years to clean and maintain the sculpture.

Shirashida cost about $410,000 to build as part of the light rail project, which was originally intended for the intersection of Elkhorn Avenue and Surfers Paradise Boulevard, according to reports.

However, upon investigation, the location was deemed inappropriate due to “constraints of this location, the timing of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, and the difficulty of determining another suitable location without deviating from the artist’s original intentions.” It turns out there is.

Nobby Beach, Surfers Paradise, Main Beach, Broadbeach and other sites along the Burleigh light rail corridor have also been declared unfeasible, according to the report. .

One of three proposed locations in the Botanical Gardens for the placement of fern sculptures.(Provided by: City of Gold Coast)

The council faced criticism over the infamous $2.1 million “Yatala Light” set up for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. ‘Gold Coast’ but cannot be read as it is located along the M1.

Last February, the council voted to commission a replica of the famous “Rusty Chicken” sculpture that was installed on Kira Hill in 1982 after it was removed over safety concerns.

The cost of its installation was confidently considered commercial.

Not “top priority”

Mayor Tom Tate said Shirashida was not a “top priority” for the city council.

But Tate said a recommendation to move the sculpture to the botanical garden would “emphasize the entrance”.

man in helmet smiling
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate says the sculpture should be cheaper to maintain.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Kansdale)

But the mayor questioned the sculpture’s $41,000 annual maintenance fee.

“It’s enough to hose it off,” he said.

“[We] You don’t want to spend money for the first 10 years. ”

Kate Heffernan, founder of Friends of the Gold Coast Botanic Gardens, said the installation of the silver fern “probably means some trees are lost.”

“They will be placed on land that has been donated to the city as an environmental park. [Ross family] In 1969,” she said.

“It’s not compatible.”

Artist Impressions of Silver Fermes at the Gold Coast Botanic Gardens
An artist’s impression of Silver Farms in the Gold Coast Botanic Gardens.(Provided by: City of Gold Coast)

Art and gardens can be “synergistic,” Heffernan said, but “must be meaningful and evocative.”

“I’m worried about the cost – it blew me away,” she said.

“For $40,000 a year, you’re actually paying an apprenticeship each year to learn and contribute to the art of gardening.

“I don’t think they [council] Understand what a botanical garden is and how important it is. ”

Heffernan said he was not speaking on behalf of the botanical gardens.

at least it’s not a phallus

Composite of phallic owl statues in Canberra.shot from front and back
A phallic owl complex in Canberra.(ABC News)

The Gold Coast isn’t the only municipality facing a costly and controversial dilemma over public art.

In 2012, ACT government temporarily removes infamous owl sculpturein response to community concerns that it looks like a penis when viewed from certain angles.

Most recently, there was a lighthouse-inspired sculpture in Byron Bay in 2019, Nicknamed “Discodon”” was also removed due to similar concerns.

In 1998, the Tweed Shire Council, just south of the Gold Coast, commissioned a $100,000 whale sculpture known locally as “Willie” because of its resemblance to a penis.

A crane lifts a metal sculpture from a roundabout
The Byron Shire Council removed the controversial ‘Disco Don’ sculpture in 2019.(ABC News: Bruce Mackenzie)

We asked Alex Pentek, the Irish sculptor who designed the fern, for comment.

The Transportation Infrastructure Commission will meet on the Council Chamber on March 14th.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-09/silver-ferns-join-yatala-lights-rusty-chook-gold-coast-sculpture/102074694 Silver Fern joins Yatala Light and Rusty Chicken in Gold Coast’s latest expensive sculpture dilemma

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