Small community at war over a flying cloud sculpture
Wright decided to donate $ 300,000 for a sculpture. He contacted Townsend, director of Creative Road Art Projects, and they walked the streets. After the bushfires, “there were empty stores,” she says. “The cafes were closing”.
Creative Road compiled a list of 10 proposals, of which three artists were invited to present concepts to a panel. The commission was awarded to Western Australian sculptor Stuart Green, who has produced abstract works across Australia that respond to the natural environment. Water cloud would have an “innate energy and presence,” he said.
When a scale model was presented at the end of November 2019, it came as a shock to some members of the community. Things heated up. There were demonstrations with placards and petitions. Blueberries were thrown on Wright at the market. There were indignant letters in the newspaper.
“The vast majority don’t want this ugly metal sculpture hanging over our heads,” wrote Michele Zbudowski. “When the first pedestrians are run over by a motorist looking at the spaceship floating above our city, so what? “
A vehement opponent of the sculpture was local Glen Little, who parked a van emblazoned with “Water Cloud Not in Our Town”. Monument to Nothingness ”outside the café where a long community engagement was taking place.
“It was scary,” Townsend said. “The energy was not pleasant. People are passionate. This is their city and they love it and we understand it.
One person even called Stuart Green and told him they didn’t want his sculpture in his town.
The Bellingen Shire Council conducted a survey on its website and about 80 percent of online responses were against the artwork being installed. At the urging of the council, Wright conducted an investigation which came back almost evenly divided. The plan was sent back to the board, which voted 5-1 in favor.
“We started off with a minimum height of 5.3 meters,” said Wright. “It was the minimum you were allowed. But you’ve got to have a double-decker cattle truck underneath, so it had to be higher than that. The sculpture undulates.
Due to the battles, the project exploded for 18 months and cost Wright much more than he expected. Currently under construction in Western Australia, the Water cloud should be erected in November.
“It wasn’t a pleasant experience, I’m still nervous about it,” Wright said. “But I felt I was giving Dorrigo something out of gratitude for giving me peace after leaving the financial world of Sydney.”
Not as much peace as he could have wished for.
But maybe the last word should go to Uncle Cecil Briggs, 82, chairman of the Dorrigo Plateau Aboriginal Lands Council.
“When they wrote to us and asked us about the cloud, I said, ‘Well you can’t dispute a cloud for sure’. What it produces is rain, water – no matter what lives in this world, no living thing lives without water, no human, no animal, no bird, no insect lives without water. . Water covers every inch of this world. For this reason, I support the cloud.
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