LOVE/HATE: Corey Thomas' controversial 12 metre tall lighthouse sculpture on the new Bayshore Drive Roundabout at Byron Bay.
LOVE/HATE: Corey Thomas' controversial 12 metre tall lighthouse sculpture on the new Bayshore Drive Roundabout at Byron Bay. Marc Stapelberg

LIGHTHOUSE FRACAS

LOVE it or hate it Byron's 'phallic' Lighthouse sculpture has stirred passions locally and across the globe.

Aside from all the media attention, and dick jokes, the 12 metre, $55,000 sculpture has spawned online campaigns demanding its removal, a Facebook poll from Green's Councillor Michael Lyon asking residents what should become of the work and a notice of motion from Labour councillor Jan Hackett lodged for February's council meeting asking that the sculpture be decommissioned.

So far around 2400 have signed the petition demanding the sculpture's removal with an equal number voting on Cr Lyon's (dare we call it Dixit) poll with 23% saying "Leave it, its great" and 77% wanting the sculpture removed, relocated or re-modelled.

In the midst of all this is Chair of the Byron Shire Council' Public Art Panel, Sarah Ndiaye, who acknowledged there were problems during the commissioning and construction process but who says calls to de-commission the sculpture are premature.

"The Public Art Panel have not met since the lighthouse was installed," she said. "We will be meeting in mid-February to discuss the matter and at that time all factors will be discussed and we hope to learn from the process.

Cr Ndiaye was reluctant to lay the blame for the flawed process and results at the feet of any one person or group, saying the fraught commissioning process together with a series of poor decisions across the board had delivered what many thought to be an unsatisfactory out come.

"The process was very rushed- there was a short amount of time to submit the ideas, a short amount of time to commission and construct the piece and then not enough time to install the work properly."

Leading the charge online and in council to decommission the Lighthouse sculpture is Cr Jan Hackett, also a member of the Public Art Panel.

She said the artist could be invited to help rework the Lighthouse but, "It should not be a case of our community having to shrug its shoulders and try learn to love the sculpture."

"We need to ask how this happened- the work as it has been delivered is substantially different from the original sketch.

"The finished product has a completely different substructure and the material changed from stainless steel to aluminium.

"Council project managed it internally without the proper expertise, council should put up its hand, say we got it wrong and start again.

"We should also get a proper Public Art commissioning process in place, so that we can keep track of these kinds of processes and have approval at every stage along the way."


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