Cockatoo sculpture develops negative opinions

Negative Curl was recently erected in Cockatoo. 284403_01 Photo: TYLER WRIGHT

By Shelby Brooks and Tyler Wright

A sculpture showcasing Cockatoo’s history is causing a stir among locals ahead of its official unveiling.

Set to be completed in the coming months, Negative Curl was a commissioned by Cardinia Shire Council as part of the Cardinia Public Art program to celebrate the history of the Cockatoo community.

But concerns for the sculpture’s location and design have been raised by locals, many who think the money for the project would have been better placed elsewhere.

“So many things need to be done within the community of Cockatoo. A random art installation is not one of them,” Laura Cook said on a Gazette Facebook post about the topic.

Samantha MacCuaig shared her concerns about the safety and location of the art piece.

“That looks sharp. Hopefully it will have some barrier around it. I would hate to stumble across it in the dark,” she said.

A Cardinia Shire spokesperson said now the artwork was onsite on McBride Avenue, the council would undertake the landscaping around it to complete the project.

Once completed, the artwork will be permanently accessible to the public.

“The artwork itself cost approximately $40,000 and was budgeted from a previous year’s Public Art Budget,” the spokesperson said.

“The installation cost was approximately $20,000, and was included as part of this year’s Arts Budget.”

The design incorporates original photos in what looks like a roll of negative camera film.

The artist is New Zealand born James Voller, who has been based in Melbourne since 2012.

A Cardinia Shire Council spokesperson also told the Gazette the council “explored a number of different suitable sites for this piece of artwork, working carefully with the artist and his team, Cardinia’s Ranges Ward councillors (at that time) and Puffing Billy (as owners of the land at Cockatoo Station which was the mutually agreed final site)“.

“Whilst the artwork itself was completed as originally planned, due to risks associated with other sites and impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic it has taken longer than was originally anticipated to place the artwork on site,” the spokesperson said.

“The artwork celebrates the wonderful history of the Cockatoo community incorporating original photos in its design.”

Cockatoo resident Chris Thompson told the Gazette the artwork could have been placed in a more “prominent spot“.

“I’d like to see more art around town – it just would have been nice for it to be put somewhere where people will actually see it,” Chris said.

A local artist, who wished not to be named, said she thought it was “fabulous” to see the council investing in artwork for Cockatoo but would have liked to see a Cockatoo artist commissioned for the piece.

“Cockatoo has some incredibly talented local artists and what would make any artwork even more spectacular is if one of our very own were given the opportunity,“ she said.

“As for the location, it doesn’t have any close footpaths and unfortunately you must drive through several large potholes to visit the artwork.

“Having artwork in Cockatoo can give the community a chance to increase tourism and also give the locals a place to gather. Hopefully the council have further plans to support the artwork and to maximise the benefits of its current location.“