Council knocks back Jesus statue City rejects church gift
A $ 60,000 bronze sculpture gifted to Townsville last year is to be knocked back because it doesn’t fit in with the city’s idea of public art.
The bronze sculpture entitled Jesus the Homeless by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz, is one of eight found in major cities around the world, and depicts Jesus as a homeless person, sleeping on a park bench.
It was commissioned by the Catholic Diocese’s Education Office and gifted to the city last year.
The sculpture is being stored in the Sacred Heart Cathedral, and the church had hoped it would find a home in a park such as Queens Gardens, Jezzine Barracks or on The Strand.
Townsville City Council public arts acquisition committee chairwoman Cr Colleen Doyle said the nine members of the public arts committee including patrons of the arts, local artists and those with connections with the arts at a gallery or university level, had recommended the council assist the church with the installation of the sculpture on private land.
She said they had made their decision to knock back the piece as public art based on the statue because it was not a one- off original, it was a cast model, and there was no evidence it being of a limited edition.
“This was well debated but debated on its art merits,” Cr Doyle said.
“It’s been a long drawn- out process and we don’t want it to seem disrespectful of the gift. It is just unfortunate this time it was Jesus, that is the hard thing for me.
“If a Johnathon Thurston statue was donated to Towns- LAWYERS and staff at Roberts Nehmer McKee are swapping corporate wear for running gear in the name of charity for this year’s Townsville Running Festival.
The team is taking the 5km Corporate Challenge to raise funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities North Queensland.
Senior associate Tamahra Moore said Roberts Nehmer McKee had a long- standing proud association with Ronald McDonald House North Queensland.
The firm is also auctioning a signed Cowboys jersey, with funds going to RMHNQ.
RMHNQ boss Amy Cooper said they ville for a sports stadium, it would have to go through the same process.
“JT is an iconic person and if it is a limited edition statue which it would be, it would most likely fit with the council’s public art installation policy.
“We were particularly keen to separate the religious aspects from the arts aspect, it shouldn’t come into the conversation when we are talking about public art.
“There were also concerns it could be prone to vandalism.”
The committee’s recommendation to reject the gift is set to go to a full council meeting on Tuesday.
Townsville Catholic Education Office executive director Cathy Day said the Catholic community would now be “evaluating other options for the location of this important artwork”. were extremely grateful to the entire team at Roberts Nehmer McKee.
“A number of our staff and volunteers, and even some families, will also be participating in the running festival,” she said.
The Townsville Running Festival will be held on August 6 and registrations will remain open until this date.