New mural in limbo as art decision ‘hijacked’
Above: Last month’s winning mural entry which was rejected 6-0 by the Toodyay Shire Council . Below: Tidy Towns chairperson Greg Warburton’s 2017 concept sketch.
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
AFTER two years of delays, the fate of Toodyay’s much-anticipated first public mural on new shire toilets in Charcoal Lane near the town’s IGA store is now in limbo because of council indecision.
The mural was commissioned to recognise Toodyay’s 2015 national Tidy Towns win.Read more
A competition for best design was held and a winner (top) selected for approval at last month’s council meeting.
However, it was opposed in a submission by Toodyay Tidy Towns member Peter Robinson who said the process had been “hijacked” and the “abstract” design failed to represent Toodyay’s Tidy Towns win.
The artwork was also opposed by Toodyay Tidy Towns chairperson Greg Warburton, who – along with Shire CEO Stan Scott, founding sponsor Colin Moore and local artist Margaret Sommerville – was part of a four-member panel that chose the winning artwork from 11 entries.
It is understood the Toodyay Tidy Towns committee wanted a design more like Mr Warburton’s sketch (pictured below winner) published two years ago in The Herald showing a group of people using orange plastic bags to collect litter and a woman with a child dumping rubbish in a yellow bin.
Last month’s debate echoed a similar one five years ago when council indecision killed off a plan by survivors of Toodyay’s disastrous 2009 fires – which destroyed 38 homes – to erect a 500kg metal Carnabys Cockatoo sculpture in Stirling Terrace to commemorate the town’s recovery.
Greenway bid to defer lost
A MOTION by Cr Paula Greenway to defer a mural decision to a May 14 council strategic forum was seconded by Cr Judy Dow and resulted in a 4:4 deadlock, with Crs Greenway, Dow, Rob Welburn and Eric Twine in favour, and Shire President Brian Rayner, Deputy President Therese Chitty and Crs Bill Manning and Ben Bell against.
President Rayner then used his casting vote to defeat the deferral motion 5-4.
Cr Manning said he saw no benefit in delaying a decision and would vote for the winning entry by Morangup artists Katherine Ferguson and Nicola Cowie.
“Even if you asked 100 people, you will never get everyone to agree to a work of art,” he said.
“Two members of the selection committee are artists and what we will finish up with is a work that has artistic merit.”
The artists submitted that their winning entry used “layers of imagery with significant meaning and structure”.
“The central theme of the background is the mapping of Toodyay from the sky using an abstract mapping country style similar to that of both current and past Aboriginal artists,” they said.
“The Avon River dominantly runs through the image giving the town life and a central heart.
“The foreground image is the beautiful Silvereye bird holding onto wheat to represent Avon Valley farming areas, the flowers in the top left are Eucalytpus caesia endemic in WA and the small yellow vine is a Flame Pea which thrives in low humidity areas such as Toodyay.
“The shapes running north of the river and into the hills are a nod to early, current and future settlers to Toodyay.
“Coloured circles at the bottom are representative of Duidgee Park and its location on the river and the river pebbles that our children love to play with.
“The white rectangle (bottom right of mural) is a space to contain the following statement as per the artists’ brief: ‘An Initiative of the Toodyay Tidy Towns committee, national winners of the Tidiest Town 2015’.”
‘Tidy town elders’
However, Cr Welburn said the mural “should be a bit more inclusive of tidy town elders” because it was their idea to have a mural to mark the town’s 2015 national titles win.
Deputy President Chitty said the mural had been “a long time coming – perhaps we need to go back to the artists about how it fits the brief”.
Cr Dow said the Toodyay Tidy Towns contribution needed to be acknowledged.
A recommendation to approve the winning mural was lost 6-2 with only President Rayner and Cr Manning voting in favour.
Mr Scott had no answer after the vote when councillors asked what would happen next, indicating it will be at least another month before anything can be decided.
The $15,000 project, which was planned to be completed this month, includes $1000 donated by Ms Sommerville, who said she was disappointed by the outcome.
“It highlights the urgent need for the shire to adopt a public arts policy for Toodyay,” she said.
It is understood the council proposes to adopt an arts policy but decided to press ahead with the mural to avoid further delay.