Public art’s in mayor’s sights

DEVELOPERS can’t be trusted to commission public art, it seems.

At least that’s the view of Vincent mayor John Carey who is keen to tighten up his council’s “per cent for art scheme”, following the emergence of a number of works he regards as below par.

Under the scheme, developers must spend at least one per cent of their project’s cost on public art.

They can either give the cash to the council, where it is reserved for public art, or they can commission their own. A $5 million development means a $50,000 commission: a $50 million project means a $500,000 work, so we’re talking big biccies for artists who get the work.

Mr Carey says the work outside 448 Fitzgerald Street in North Perth resembled a “cherub [that] looked like it was knocked off from Mitre 10”. We can’t publish a photo because the piece is no longer there.

• This robot by Si Hummerston, an example of “good work” put up by Vincent council, perhaps ponders why he sits opposite some less thrilling art. Photo by Matthew Dwyer

• This robot by Si Hummerston, an example of “good work” put up by Vincent council, perhaps ponders why he sits opposite some less thrilling art. Photo
by Matthew Dwyer

“They are shocker barry crockers,” Mr Carey said of it and a nearby work that could either be “art” or debris that simply fell off the building.

The new policy will state the work must be original art, not a garden sculpture from Bunnings concreted onto a plinth.

It must be created by a “professional artist”, who can’t be family members of anyone with a financial interest in the development.

Mr Carey says the policy “is about stopping some of the dodgy and appalling works that crept into the City of Vincent.

“We’re not going to accept your mate’s ‘art’ or something from Bunnings,” he says.

The per cent for art scheme’s been in place since 1998 — it’s believed to be the first in WA, and other councils have started their own since — and has resulted in at least 60 developer-funded artworks around the city.

by DAVID BELL

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