The final stage of the installation of Corey Thomas' 12 metre tall lighthouse sculpture on the new Bayshore Drive Roundabout at Byron Bay.
The final stage of the installation of Corey Thomas' 12 metre tall lighthouse sculpture on the new Bayshore Drive Roundabout at Byron Bay. Digital mischief: Northern Star

COUNCIL DECIDES: The dong is gone

UPDATE 4.02pm: BYRON Shire Councillors have voted to de-commission the incomplete Lighthouse sculpture that stands at the corner of Ewingsdale Road and Bayshore Drive in Byron Bay.

There is no timeline yet for the decommissioning and removal of the controversial sculpture but once complete the undamaged birds will be offered for sale to the public via the Myocum Resource Recovery Centre at $20 per bird with the funds to be used to cover the cost of decommissioning.

Funds raised will also go towards the developing a 'Byron Shire Council Cultural Policy' and projects working to reduce homelessness in the Byron Shire.

Chair of the Byron Shire Council Public Art Panel Cr Sara Ndiaye said it was a particularly sad day for her but accepted the decision was inevitable with the sculpture the subject of online ridicule by the public since it was unveiled last December.

An online poll of Northern Star readers this week showed that 69 per cent wanted the sculpture removed with many Byron locals saying the sculpture "did not reflect Byron's true spirit."

The move to decommission the sculpture comes in the wake of an engineers report citing safety concerns with regard to people climbing on the structure and causing ongoing damage.

Cr Ndiaye asked fellow councillors and ratepayers to be considerate of the artist Corey Thomas who was the subject of abuse by passing motorist during the installation of the sculpture.

She also revealed the artist has since had to shut down his personal website due to ongoing abuse and had lost subsequent commissions.

"The experience has taken an immense emotional toll on the artist and his family and his career," she said.

Councillors also acknowledged the commissioning and construction process had been mishandled with Cr Jan Hackett saying, "We threw the artist under a bus...without proper project management...and we need to apologise to the artist."

The $55,000 sculpture was plagued by issues from the start. A push to have the roundabout re-opened before Christmas and unexpected traffic issues meant the full vision for the sculpture was never realised. The artist had offered to return to finish the work for free but with additional costs on top of up to $35,000 for road closure and safety measures.  

 

UPDATE 2.47pm: BYRON'S controversial Lighthouse sculpture, dubbed the 'disco dong', will be torn down.

Byron Shire Councillors have just voted 6-2 to de-commission the sculpture.

Up to 5000 birds will be made available for sale to the public at a later date for $20 each.

There are no details yet on the timeline for removal.

 

UPDATE 11.52am: THE future of Byron Bay's controversial lighthouse sculpture will soon be known as councillors gather for their monthly general meeting.

Byron Shire Councillors will discuss whether to commit more money to complete the sculpture, or remove it.

Mayor Simon Richardson will absent himself from the discussion given the artist is a personal friend.

Stay tuned.

 

ORIGINAL STORY: THE results are in, our readers have spoken, 69 per cent of you don't want Byron Bay's Lighthouse sculpture to be saved.

Today, Byron Shire Council will discuss the fate of the controversial sculpture, dubbed 'the disco dong'. Councillors will consider a report by the Byron Shire Council Arts Panel which lays out some stark choices - decommission the sculpture or commission further work to be carried out. Both choices involve spending more money.

The sculpture, initially costed at $55,000, was plagued by issues from the start. A push to have the roundabout reopened before Christmas and unexpected traffic issues led to the artist being unable to complete his full vision for the sculpture.

The artist has offered to return to complete the sculpture for free but with additional costs on top of up to $35,000 - for road closure safety measures etc.

In the eight months since the sculpture was 'unveiled', the council has already commissioned an $8000 structural engineering inspection as a result of people climbing on the structure and hanging flags and teddy bears on it.

The report notes that birds have been substantially damaged by the climbers already.

The report says it will cost between $11,000 and $13,000 to decommission the sculpture with up to $25,000 required to reinstate the roundabout.

The results

Of 118 people who responded to the poll, 82 said the sculpture should not be saved, 29 said it should, and seven didn't care.