PUBLIC ART: Maqette of the sculpture proposed for Railway Park.
PUBLIC ART: Maqette of the sculpture proposed for Railway Park. Contributed

$80K art commission

HAVING just weathered the storm around the controversial sculpture at the corner of Bayshore Drive, Byron Shire Council has commissioned two new pieces of public art to the upgraded Railway Park in Byron Bay.

One of the pieces, by Brisbane artist Giovanni Veronisi, is an $80,000 galvanised steel sculpture that takes its visual cue from the pandanus fruit and will be paid for through developer contributions.

The other is being created by the Arakwal youth who are developing designs that tell cultural stories which will be sandblasted into paving in and around Railway Park.

Chair of Council's Public Art Panel, Councillor Sarah Ndiaye, said Byron Shire is known for its celebration of, and support for, arts and the creative industries.

"The upgrade to Railway Park is designed to return the area to a meeting place that the community feels safe in and proud of, and it is a wonderful way to showcase the history of the Arakwal,” Cr Ndiaye said.

Mr Veronesi's sculpture is called Memento Aestates which means 'Remember the Summers' and speaks to his memories of visits to, and fond association with, Byron Bay. Mr Veronesi is an artist and architect who was shortlisted from 23 applicants (including local artists) through an Expression of Interest process that clearly detailed the guidelines for the artwork which included materials, public safety and site specifications.

"The Public Art Panel was very interested to see the proposals from local artists and all applications were assessed against criteria such as thematic direction, artistic excellence and public safety as part of an open, competitive process,” Cr Ndiaye said.

"All applicants were given the opportunity to receive individual feedback on their application.

"It's fitting that as we upgrade one of the key open green spaces in the centre of Byron, we include artwork that speaks to the history of the town and the environment, people and culture which make it so unique.

"Public art by its very nature can challenge, provoke and delight - all in equal measure. Importantly, it invites community engagement and generates robust dialogue that considers notions of place, culture and aesthetics.

"This EOI process occurred last year (2018) and we ran a fair and honest process.

"But we hear what the community is saying about wanting to see more recognition and support for local artists and staff are now looking at ways to increase the weighting for local artists in the selection criteria for future projects.

"Council will also be working with local arts organisations to run workshops to help local artists improve their skills when it comes to writing Expressions of Interest for projects so they can be confident they are meeting the selection criteria.

The art installations in Railway Park are designed to complement the upgrade to Railway Park, but won't be installed until the park upgrade is complete.

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