Daily Archives: August 21, 2013

Unsafe Sculptures

With the pyramid sculptures in High Street, Northcote being removed due to safety concerns I thought that I look at health and safety issue with public sculpture.

Just 8-days after they it was installed Darebin City Council decided to remove the Syrinx Environmental sculpture. The location of this spiky series of metal pyramids in the centre medium strip of High Street was the chief concern.

In 2008 Manningham councillors voted unanimously to remove “Sidle” (2007) by Melbourne-based architect/artist partnership, Cat Macleod and Michael Bellemo from Carawatha Reserve in Doncaster. The reason was not aesthetic but concerns about the safety of children climbing on it; the sculpture was very tempting as it was constructed from multiple metal children’s playground slides albeit with longer legs and arranged in a waveform.

Macleod and Bellemo, Shoal Fly By, Docklands, 2011

Macleod and Bellemo, Shoal Fly By, Docklands, 2011

Cat Macleod and Michael Bellemo have also had health and safety problems with another of their sculpture, “Shoal Fly By” at the Docklands. For years temporary fencing has surrounded it but this was not due to the sculpture but the old “zero weight bearing” dock that it was installed on. The Docklands commissioning process does state that the sculpture must “be safe for people to touch and move around without any public liability issues”; it did not state that the location for the installation of the sculpture would be.

Anthony Pryor, The Legend, MCG

Anthony Pryor, The Legend, MCG

Orange bollards around each of the three steel pillars surround Anthony Pryor’s dynamic steel sculpture “The Legend”, 1991, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. These were not part of the original work but something had to be done for health and safety reasons – just one of the perils of not having a plinth. Another peril of not having a plinth is that a car can crash into the sculpture – this hasn’t happened in Melbourne yet but it has happened elsewhere in the world.

The locations of these sculptures in the urban environment and the possible interactions of cars, children, motorcycles and bicycles are the major health and safety issues.


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