When it comes to the suspended, uprooted Cabbage Tree Palm which has towered over Crown Street Mall for the past two and a half years, everyone's an expert.
Ever since it was unveiled, under cover of darkness, as a surprise public art centrepiece in October 2017, the controversial sculpture has set tongues a-wagging; in its first week alone it was labelled as both 'crimes against nature' and a 'remedy for the problems of the mall'.
Now, with the tree just a part of the furniture in the mall, Wollongong City Council is seeking art experts to fill a new panel, which will help shape the future of Wollongong's public art - and potential choose the next palm-tree-up-a-pole style project - over the next two years.
According to the council, Public Art Advisory Panel (PAAP) will provide independent advice to the council, and make recommendations on the implementation of the city's Public Art and Creative Wollongong strategies, policies, projects and programs.
"Creative individuals looking to make a difference in the public arts space" are invited to apply, with the council seeking "a diverse panel of experts".
Membership will be up to two years, with panel members expected to volunteer their time and commit to about 25 hours per year.
The council is after four panel members with a range of skills and perspectives, including expertise in public art, visual arts, curatorial, architecture, design, creative and cultural planning, experience with sponsorship, philanthropy, and collaborative opportunities.
Panel members should also have close connections to the Wollongong area and cultural awareness and an understanding of arts inclusion, the council said.
According to the council's public art strategy, the council hopes to make public art an integral part of the development process for major developments over the coming years. New art will also "create a receptive, healing, social environment", enhance public space, assist in way-finding, represent local history, celebrate diversity and build civic pride, the council said.
The infamous palm tree was not chosen by a voluntary public art panel, but rather a paid expert who selected New Zealand artist Mike Hewson from more than 150 different artists from around the world who pitched to complete the Wollongong mall art.
The tall tree, which has defied public expectation by both staying standing and staying alive in its lofty position for nearly three years, is part of a series installations, including the nearby children's sandstone rock playgrounds which cost the council about $450,000.
Applications for the panel are due in by this Friday, July 17.
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