Coun­cil knocks back Je­sus statue City re­jects church gift

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - EMMA CHAD­WICK

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.

BEST FEET FOR­WARD: Roberts Nehmer McKee staff Jodie Dud­ley, Char­ity Stew­ard, Tamahra Moore, Joanne Fitch­ett, Kim Valinoti and Deb­bie Breen. Pic­ture: ZAK SIM­MONDS

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