18 April 2007

Local icons.

Prompted by Sharyn’s piece on the Rotary Fountain in Burn’s Place, I did a quick survey of the postcard racks looking for other icons of cultural achievement and historical landmarks.
Alas – nothing!
Plenty of beaches and pelicans though.
I did stumble across (almost literally) the stone entrance to Grahame Park, ignominiously set in the fence at the back of “that” stadium. Perhaps, being at dog level, it celebrates a time when dogs (and people) freely could enjoy that part of the public foreshore, and also provide an amenity for them now.

Gosford Times has already featured Kendall’s Rock and the Reptile Park Dinosaur, and the Back Page this week has a nice image of the old Gosford School of Arts Building, but not much has survived “development”.

Do we have any grand civic structures, historical or aesthetic monuments, or do we need to acquire some. We have looked at William Pye’s Charybdis as an inspiration for a monument to common communal values (the Town Well), and one can’t avoid the example of Anthony Gormley’s Angel of the North in defining a location and region.

Material presence informs awareness. In the past the Cathedral focussed a city on issues beyond the mundane and commercial, and the in-progress Buddhist Great Stupa of Compassion will undoubtedly redefine Bendigo,

Perhaps we should look to examples from elsewhere.

“There is a new trend in monument buildings in the countries of former Yugoslavia. After the wars that aimed to eradicate the multi-cultural character of the former society, now the monuments are built in celebration of that very character to globally recognized imaginary heroes that fight for justice and protect the innocent: Bruce Lee in Mostar (Bosnia), Rocky Balboa in Zitiste (Serbia), Winettou in Plitvice (Croatia), Tarzan in Medja (Serbia) - birthplace
of Jonny Weismueller, and Samantha Fox (before breast-reduction) in Cacak, the capital of Serbian country music. Significantly, the only place where such a monument faces desecration and vandalism is Mostar in Bosnia, also the only place still with multi-ethnic population. Is it so that Balkanians can accept theoretical multi-culturalism only once they practically destroy traces of culture of "others" around them?”
Via Nettime.

A plan to have a monument to Sigmund Freud has been turned down by locals in Prague who want to have a statue of a goat instead.
The monument will be erected in the area of the city known as Goat Square where there have been no goats for hundreds of years. Freud was born in the Czech Republic but lost out to the goats after locals started a protest group called "The Friends of the Goat".
Spokesman Stanislav Penc said: "A Freud monument can be erected anywhere in the Czech Republic, a goat monument only on Goat Square."
Via Ananova, who also provided us with the update below:

“Plans for a statue of former page three girl Samantha Fox in Serbia have been scrapped.
The tribute was ditched after she snubbed fans and then failed to turn up for a ministerial dinner staged in her honour after a concert in Serbia.
The former pin-up said: "The crowd made rude comments about my breasts."
The British singer had stormed off after the gig in the central Serbian town of Cacak after the crowd started singing a chant about wanting to see her breasts.
Local media said the hall she had played in had been only half full and the audience had made it clear they were not there to hear her sing.
Fans had last month said they were planning the statue in Cacak because they thought she was an idol who deserved a proper monument to her talents.
Now the plans have reportedly been scrapped after the backers pulled out following the concert.”

Could this be our opportunity?

08 April 2007

Planning for Expansion

Suburbia Central – Planning for Expansion.

Will people look back on early 21st Century Gosford with bemused wonder at the shape of the inhabitant’s bodies, the way some people now regard the fashions of the 1970s, as something almost alien?

Is the suburban culture of the Central Coast responsible for the fatty somatic inflation? Some recent research finds a link between obesity and urban design. (Please note Gosford City Planners)

Does sprawl make us fat?
A recent Science News story is about the relationship between city design and health. New transdisciplinary research is exploring whether urban sprawl makes us soft, or people who don't like to exercise move to the suburbs, or, more likely, some combination of both. An important factor is a community's so-called network efficiency - its walkability. In an efficient network, such as a grid-like neighborhood, pedestrians can walk relatively directly between any two points. The maze of cul-de-sacs found in many new “developments” is an inefficient network."

From Science News:

(University of British Columbia urban planning professor Lawrence) Frank's team, like the other groups, found that areas with interspersed homes, shops, and offices had fewer obese residents than did homogeneous residential areas whose residents were of a similar age, income, and education. Furthermore, neighborhoods with greater residential density and street plans that facilitate walking from place to place showed below-average rates of obesity.

The magnitude of the effect wasn't trivial: A typical white male living in a compact, mixed-use community weighs about 4.5 kilograms (10 pounds) less than a similar man in a diffuse subdivision containing nothing but homes, Frank and his colleagues reported.

So far, the dozen strong studies that have probed the relationships among the urban environment, people's activity, and obesity have all agreed, says (Reid Ewing of the University of Maryland at College Park's National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education). "Sprawling places have heavier people," he says. "There is evidence of an association between the built environment and obesity."

Does this research shed some light on other aspects of culture? The Back Page comments on how it might be applicable to the state of “Art” locally.

01 April 2007

Burns Place Fountain Scoop

Scoop - From Sharyn Walker.

"I grew up in the Gosford Shire/City. My home, schooling and social life all revolved around Gosford – mainly the ‘Peninsula’ in my primary school-aged life. As an adult and since turning an age where reminiscence and memory rears, I am observing change to places where I spent many childhood hours.

My childhood home is now a car park to a nursing home. This change occurred about three or four years ago. That’s okay, maybe that is where I will spend my twilight years.

The buildings where I attended primary school, St. John the Baptist, Woy Woy, were abandoned and classes moved, in 1979, to more salubrious grounds. This too was okay, as I had also abandoned primary classes to attend high school. Subsequently, the buildings were utilised for community college classes.

About two years ago, I was anguished to observe the felling of two of the school ground’s favoured trees. And later the demolition of the whole school – those classic, old buildings.

Photo taken by “Spike”, editor of http://thisisntsydney.blogspot.com/ a very
interesting read.

As for “Gosford”, I have one Gosford, which exists in my 2007 reality, and another Gosford, which exists, in my nostalgic, indulgent memory.

Which brings me to the Rotary Fountain where the two Gosfords intersect.

Copyright Gosford & District in Pictures

From 1979 to 1982 the Rotary Fountain, Gosford, featured in my life, as a daily meeting place and hangout, just briefly, while awaiting the bus/train to take me to school or home. Teen-hood observation is not much externalised, and if anything, I thought the fountain to be mossy and ugly. It is only in recent years, maybe since the loss of fountain water, and maybe since the removal of the scoop, that I have come to appreciate the artistic value and history of the fountain.

In November, 2006, I asked Gosford Council’s Officer for Parks and Waterways what had become of what I have dubbed "the scoop". Bryce Cameron responded:

'At present Council is consulting with the sculptor & foundries to reproduce the scoop. Initially for approval to go ahead and also for prices. We will then have to apply for funds to undertake the works.'

This job has been delegated to Charlie Trivers, Collection and Exhibitions Officer, Gosford Regional Gallery.

A brief history: In the early 1960s Gosford Rotary commissioned the fountain as a memorial to all who had fought for peace. Sculptor Gerald Lewers was invited to create and install the fountain and his wife, painter Margo Lewers, was invited to design the pool and wall mosaic. Before work on the fountain commenced, Gerald died following a fall from his horse. Margo and their daughter, jeweller and silversmith, Darani, carried on the project to its completion.

When asked what inspired the unusual design Ms Darani Lewers states:

'Gerald made a series of public fountains in the 1950s. A feature of his work was an interest in using water to complete the fountains as sculpture in motion.

The mosaics are an extension of Margo Lewers's painting. Initially she created a series of wall and floor mosaics for the family home. They formed the basis for the commissioned work such as the Rotary Fountain.

Several of Gerald Lewers’s small fountains can be seen
at the Penrith Regional Gallery and Lewers Bequest,
originally the artists’ home, at Emu Plains.

Ms Lewers remembers well the Rotary Fountain and was keenly disappointed to hear of the recent vandalism. Charlie Trivers has contacted Ms Lewers to seek advice on the restoration of the 'scoop'.

She fears that much of society today does not sufficiently value public art and that we are losing our cultural past. 'This fountain is a part of our heritage and we need to draw on the collective memory while it still exists'.

It is promising that Council is taking the restoration of the fountain 'scoop' seriously and that work is under way to seek quotes from a “reputable conservator”. Charlie Trivers wrote in February 2007:

"We have received a quote from a reputable conservator for the fountains repair to the copperwork of the fountain. We also have to consider making the work more vandal proof without detracting from the integrity of the work."

Ms Darani Lewers hopes the work will be undertaken by the original craftpersons, the coppersmiths Wardrobe & Carroll of Alexandria, Sydney.

A more recent email from Mr Trivers states:

“Due to the recent water shortages the council has turned off all fountains in the Gosford area.
With appropriate water use being a huge issue at the moment the fountains priority is not as great as it has been.”

He does assure me, however, that his manager will allocate the funds in the next financial year for the restoration (2007/08).

Although the flow of water does complete the overall sculptural form of the fountain, should the absence of water lessen the priority of the restoration process?

While Gosford Vision 2025 Strategic Plan promotes the future enhancement of performative and visual art in the area, let’s hope that it is not at the expense of our historically important art icons."

Sharyn Walker.