New public art commissioned for Byron Bay’s Railway Park

Model of new sculpture commissioned for Railway Park

Byron Shire Council is committed to investing in public art and has commissioned two new pieces to be features of the upgrade to Railway Park in Byron Bay.

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

One piece of public art 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.

The young people have been part of a series of workshops to decide what stories they want to tell and then developing the designs.

“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.

The other piece is by Brisbane artist Giovanni Veronisi who was selected from an open Expression of Interest process to design an artwork to reflect the cultural life of Byron Bay and welcome both locals and visitors to the centre of town.

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,” Cr Ndiaye said.

Mr Veronesi’s sculpture is somewhat reminiscent of a pandanus fruit, referencing the pandanus trees which are prevalent in the area, and is made from galvanised steel to reflect the labour and industrious efforts of the Byron community historically.

“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,” Cr Ndiaye said.

“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.

“This will allow for active participation by the Public Art Panel and Byron Masterplan Guidance Group in deciding the main sculpture’s final location.

The budget for the major Railway Park piece is $80,000, thanks to developer contributions.

The next stage of the Railway Park upgrade is scheduled to begin in April 2019 and is expected to be completed by November 2019.

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