PUBLIC ART LOST FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
By Roel Loopers August 20, 2018.
The initiative by the City of Fremantle and other local councils to introduce a percentage for the arts scheme has been good for WA artists and the public, but it comes with the risk that the lifespan of some of the artworks will be relatively short if they are attached to buildings.
Take the great Rick Vermey art within the LIV apartment building at Queen Victoria Street. Nowadays buildings are considered to last for about 50 years before being replaced by more modern structures, e.g. the Queensgate and Myer buidings at Kings Square. If the LIV buildings get demolished in 50 years that would also be the end of the Vermey artwork and that would be a real shame and a loss for future generations.
The same applies to the Loretta Grant artwork on top of the Quest Hotel in Pakenham Street and the round artwork on the building on the corner of Bannister and Pakenham streets by Tom Mueller.
The percentage for the arts scheme states that the requirement for a public art contribution can be waived by the City of Fremantle where the same value of artwork is incorporated in the development, clearly visible to the general public.
It worries me that many outstanding new artworks in Fremantle, created as percentage for the arts, will not be preserved because they are incorporated in a development and not free standing in the public realm. We have a duty to share our cultural riches with future generations!
This is an interesting point about the short projected lifetimes of buildings. Fifty years doesn’t seem like a very long time to expect a building to last. But perhaps it does make sense: maybe the cost of building something to last 100 years (say) is more than twice the cost of building something twice? Or is it just a case of people now offsetting that cost onto people in the future?
I always feel sad when I see a building in Fremantle demolished. Not just demolished, but in the modern way of completely and utterly erasing its presence from the landscape: every skerrick of its fabric removed and the site raked clean and level. I know it’s easier to build new things that way, but it does seem to mean that there’s no accretion, no embedding of (small, incidental) bits of history in the places. Sometimes developers put an intentional relic in, like the weighbridge from the CSR refinery, but it just looks silly.