Controversial artwork unveiled just days away out Cairns park opening
OPINION is divided over the city’s new public art offering, with many Cairns residents left scratching their heads.

Cairns Regional
Council Mayor Bob Manning unveiled the nine-metre tall sculpture, titled Embrace,
at the busy intersection of Sheridan and Florence streets yesterday. The
sculpture has been placed near the entrance to the city’s redeveloped Munro
Martin Parklands, which will also be officially opened this month.

The artwork is the
first of a two-piece, $165,000 public art project designed to celebrate the
connection between James Cook University and the city of Cairns. Created by
Woopen Creek-based artist Braham Stevens, whose works have been installed at
Innisfail, Mission Beach, Melbourne and Japan, the sculpture represents “the
intricate relationships, cycles and connections between geology, ecology, man,
time and place”.

“Braham is known
for creating outdoor sculptures that are inspired by the rainforest and reef
environments that surround our region,” Cr Manning said. “His vision for this
work was to create something uniquely relevant to the tropics.”

But the artwork is already dividing the community.

The majority of Cairns Post readers on Facebook weren’t
impressed with the sculpture
, and neither were Canopy Art Centre
managers Paloma Ramos and Theo Tremblay. “I’m not excited by it,” Mr Tremblay
said. “It’s spooky and I think reminiscent of bad spirits. I think there could
have been more involvement with the features of the Tropics.”

Ms Ramos described
the work as “plonk art” and said she struggled to see its connection to the
environment. “Good art gets you thinking and I don’t think it does that,” she
said. “It would have been nice if they had consulted the community so there was
more of a human component in the result.”

Contemporary Arts director Justin Bishop said while he wasn’t privy to the
artist’s brief, he felt the sculpture failed to serve as a “waymaker”. “It guides
me nowhere and says nothing,” he said. “For a piece of that scale I expected to
see more vibrancy relating to its purpose as a gateway piece into the parkland
precinct. “There’s nothing about it that screams Tropical North Queensland.”