A former Wagga City Council director has moved to ease community concerns over a controversial piece of art in one of the city’s parks.
John Craig, who once headed up council’s external services department, said public art “comes down to taste” and pointed to the successful street art project at Bolton Park.
“I cannot recall any criticism of those murals,” Mr Craig said in a letter to the Advertiser.
“That leads me to conclude that acceptance of public art comes down to taste.
“The one thing that is generally accepted is the public art protect walls from graffiti and their are a lot of examples to support this statement.”
In his letter, Mr Craig said he weighed into the debate because of the debate surrounding the Harris Park artwork.
The artwork depicts animals painted abstractly by children as part of a school holidays workshop.
A Country Rugby League official earlier this week flagged concerns over the artwork and argued that it did not reflect the surrounding sporting environment.
Concerns also persist surrounding the level of council consultation that was afforded to sporting clubs that use the field.
Wagga people vented their anger online over the $7000 ratepayer-funded project.
“$7000. Money well spent. Said no wagga resident ever!” one reader wrote.
Other people questioned why council sought to employ a Perth-based artist over a local: “This is horrible and gives proper aerosol art a bad name..why do these people in council insist on getting so called artists from out of town.”
The under fire artist, Steve Browne, promised to respond to community concerns in coming days.
Council maintains that the project was designed to engage children and to reduce instances of vandalism to public property.
It said it was committed to ensuring public spaces were enhanced.
Mr Craig said he “dreaded” to imagine what the current costs to council were over removing graffiti.
“I spend too much of my time in a losing battle to rid our rear laneway of such tags,” he wrote.
“I am aware of neighbours who also spend time and money removing tags and I dread to think of costs to Council to remove tags.
“This is just wanton vandalism and will not subside until the courts get serious about punishment and/or perpetrators understand the impact of their actions.”
Earlier this week a leader of the city’s art community, Scott Howie, also spoke in defence of the artwork.
He said street art projects were a “tried and proven” means to reduce instances of graffiti.
Council opened a new $100,000 piece of art at the airport on Tuesday.
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