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.

About Mark Holsworth

Writer, independent researcher and artist, Mark Holsworth is the author of the book Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

4 responses to “Unsafe Sculptures

  • Xersa

    I have wandered in and around these sculptures with Eric and I didn’t hurt myself. I didn’t see a way to climb on them and would not do so out of respect for the artist and the artwork. If people have lost the meaning of respect even when young, then a fence or glass enclosure is unfortunately a consideration. I would rather have the artworks protected from disrespectful people. I would rather have the artworks displayed than not.
    This comes from an artist who wouldn’t mind if her work ends up in an enclosure of some sort and If I should be commissioned to create a piece then will design the enclosure too.

    • Mark Holsworth

      Which one of these four sculptures have you wandered in and around? The one in the middle of High St. in Northcote? Shoal Fly By that was behind the security fence on a zero weight baring warf? The one in the Doncaster park with the ladder rungs before or after they were covered? Anthony Pryor’s?

    • Xersa

      Shoal Fly By and there wasn’t a fence that I was aware of, I wandered around underneath in marvel at its poetry

  • The Everyday Life of Public Art – Part 1 | Public Art Research

    […] Metal Pyramids of High St Northcote (Facebook), Esther Anatolitis (Twitter), Black Mark, etc […]

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