Angel Destruction Horrifies Local Arts Community
BYRON BAY arts community members are outraged that a sculpture in the Arts and Industrial Estate, Byron Bay, has been destroyed and removed. Stating this action was taken without approval, local artists Benita Martin, Maximus Domulous and Jenny Bannister contacted Voice of Byron about the angel’s destruction.
Arts community representative Benita Martin said:
Is this the type of uncultured heathens we have in Byron Bay? This total disrespect for art and culture beggars belief. Can any philistine just up and maliciously destroy works of art without any notification or reason, or even ownership of it?
I thought Byron was an egalitarian region. Respect, with harmony, for all cultures, political, economic and social beliefs, ideals and visions. This story tells of an act of wanton destruction by a belligerent elitist with a personal grudge against a piece of art and I’m disgusted.
The Arts and Industrial Estate in Byron Bay is not the most visually attractive of areas to live and work but its made a little easier on the eye by a few pieces of art throughout the area. In Tasman Way, across from the Madges bus depot, stood (until yesterday) a very large proud fine statue. The Angel.
It sat on strata titled property for 11 years where the New Zealand-born famous sculptor and master carver Judson Chatfield used to live and work. The Angel was enjoyed by many people in the area as it was something lovely in an otherwise somewhat bleak and inhospitable environment.
But there was one man who wanted it gone. One of the strata title owners where the Angel stood hated the Angel with a vengeance and surreptitiously planned to have it torn down even if he had to commit an act of vandalism to do so.
The Byron Bay property owner and former Professionals Real Estate salesperson didn’t tell the other strata title owners, (the combined owners of the Angel) of his plans. Instead, he employed a local gardener to come and look at it with the intent of its destruction.
The gardener happened to mention to one of the other owners that he was coming in a few days to destroy the statue. It was claimed the Angel “scared children and attracted graffiti”. (This would assume that the industrial area is seething with children and graffiti artists and that the Angel was a well-known hazard and target for graffiti.
It did get tagged once but no known cases of it ‘scaring people’ have been found by the writer. In fact, she was nicely nestled, partially hidden, amongst some trees and only recently were they trimmed by one of the residents to show her in all her glory.)
The strata title owner claimed that he had been in touch with the artist and had authority to destroy it. This was a point-blank lie. The artist, Judson Chatfield, who resides in Mexico, knows nothing about the destruction of his Angel nor has he been given the opportunity to make alternative plans for her.
An action plan was needed. And fast.
The arts community were rallied up by Karena Wynn-Moylan of Bay FM, Allen Horstmanshof and local movers and shakers of the arts. A plan was formed. The statue would be collected and removed to Bangalow where the local Arts Group planned to relocate it to a place where it could be enjoyed by the public.
Previously an attempt had been made to relocate the Angel and the group was just awaiting word from the artist on the engineering used to secure it, to enable its safe removal. A fantastic solution and one where the whole community could benefit from. They were delighted a solution had been found for their beauty. A good news story they planned to share with the community.
BUT, in a clandestine act of total disregard for art and culture and a feasible option to relocate the Angel at no cost or effort to himself, the strata title owner engaged a local gardener to come in (between 6am and 7am on 4th July) and tear it down. Apparently the starta title owner thought that it was not worth making this valuable piece of art available to the public… even if it were to be removed for free. Instead, he PAID someone to come and DESTROY it.
From personal experience and education in the economic development industry (at executive level) I have discovered that art fuels a strong community development role as well. Most people who participate in art and cultural activities would say that these activities enhance the quality of their lives – they bring about personal enjoyment, enriching perspectives, intellectual stimulation, and opportunities for public involvement. But art is also about crossing boundaries. By seeing things in different ways it can be a vehicle for public discussion, understanding social issues, and building social connections. Through participation and/or political action, citizens can shape their community to better reflect their values.
— Benita Martin
The arts and/or expressive culture also have broader impacts beyond the individual level. Several researchers have argued that people are increasingly first, choosing where they want to live and then, seeking employment there.
In today’s economy, the ability to attract and retain creative human talent is a big key to economic sustainability and growth. Communities who want to get the most talented and brightest workers are selling them on the cultural vibrancy of their communities—the restaurants, art galleries, music scene, architecture, public gardens, and so on.
In fact, the towns and cities that are most successful in attracting workers are the ones that have exciting art and cultural offerings.
The arts and culture sector is an integral part of the economy, they enrich our society, reflect our national identity and are at the core of our burgeoning creative industries sector.