Eleven-metre high ferns will tower over Surfers Paradise near Cavill Avenue. Photo: Artist impression Elkhorn Avenue at Surfers Paradise will get a makeover featuring huge silver ferns. Photo: Tony Moore
Silver ferns eleven metres high will tower over a Gold Coast highway intersection as a reminder of the city’s lost rainforest.
The section of the Gold Coast between the beach and the river near Cavill Avenue was once one of Australia’s most diverse rainforests.
Today all that remains are street signs at Surfers Paradise: Elkhorn Avenue, Staghorn Avenue and Ferny Avenue.
However, from April 2017 they will be joined by four sculptured stainless steel silver “shield ferns”.
The sculptures are part of Urban Oasis, an artwork that won the $330,000 Gold Coast City Council’s major public art commission.
The four silver ferns will sit on each of the four corners of Elkhorn Avenue and Surfers Paradise Boulevard.
Prominent arts director, singer, performer and festival director Robyn Archer AO chaired the selection panel that chose the giant silver ferns from the five finalists.
She said the Gold Coast had lost this part of its history and that was a major reason why the selection chose the sculpture.
“I imagine many people have lost sight of it,” Ms Archer said. “That there was rainforest here and it was a rainforest of such diverse species.”
The winning artist is Irishman Alex Pentek, who was shortlisted for his submission in 2010 when the Queensland government sought a major public artwork for Kangaroo Point after an old TAFE campus was sold and converted to parkland.
Ms Archer said Mr Pentek’s work was one of the few submissions that addressed all four corners of the busy intersection.
“We love the way his work brings the whole site together,” she said.
It also allows a collaboration with Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens.
“In the ground underneath each of the ferns will be botanical representations of other things that used to grow here and that will allow the collaboration with the botanical gardens here.”
A Gold Coast artist will be chosen to work with Mr Pentek in Ireland as part of a separate $5000 art prize, Ms Archer said.
“So someone local is going to work with him from the word go,” she said.
Applications for this stage were now being received.
The sculpture is part of Gold Coast City Council’s plan to progressively build a new cultural corridor from Surfers Paradise across to Chevron Island, then back across to its council-owned land at Evandale, where the council’s chambers and performing arts centre stand.
The past two council budgets have put forward money to get stage one of the cultural precinct ready before the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The second stage depends on securing funds and the Gold Coast City Council is considering leasing – not selling – council land at Evandale as one option for future stages of the cultural precinct.
Overall the project has a price tag of about $300 million.
Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate said the sculpture was another step to the planned cultural precinct.
“It is the beginning of a cultural corridor where we can walk all the way to the cultural precinct.”
Cr Tate said reports that he was considering selling the council-owned land at Evandale to fund the project were wrong.
He said one option for a future council was to lease land, or buildings, but not to sell.
“I would object to any sale of land in the Evandale precinct,” he said.
“It was never planned to sell any land to private investors.”
The council would receive revenue from any lease agreement, depending on the terms reached, but would retain ownership.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.