Australian taxpayers are up in arms over reports that more than a half-million dollars of public money was spent on a government-commissioned sculpture by internationally renowned artist Andy Goldsworthy that is not only designed to disappear into the environment over time, but is located in the remote Australian wilderness.
After a one hour hike along a track accessible only with a four wheel drive vehicle, hikers, tourists and art lovers will be confronted by a striking 12-feet-tall granite sculpture described as a “not-to-be-missed attraction” by the Department of Environment and Resource Management, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Division. Constructed in picturesque Conondale National Park, Goldsworthy’s sculpture, titled “Strangler Cairn,” consists of hundreds of blocks of hand-cut granite sourced from a local quarry and tightly packed into a “dry wall” system. Carved into stone at the top of the sculpture is a small dish in which a rainforest strangler fig sapling has been planted.
It is the artist’s intention that over time the fig’s roots will grow to eventually cover and “strangle” the sculpture, essentially causing it to dissolve into its environment. According to the Queensland Government department that commissioned the project, “During his initial visit in 2009, Andy Goldsworthy found inspiration in a natural clearing in the rainforest of Conondale National Park where a large strangler fig had fallen.”
Australia’s Courier Mail obtained documents that reveal details of the $684,000 (USD $709,000) spent on Goldworthy’s “Strangler Cairn” project, which was was entirely funded through the art+place Queensland Public Art Fund 2010. According to the documents, $330,000 (USD $341,000) was paid to Goldsworthy, $50,000 (USD $51,700) was spent on heli-lifting the 30-ton collection of rocks to the site, and the remainder of the funds went toward “production expenses.”
Noted for his sensitive response to the environment, which made him a perfect choice for working in the national park, Goldsworthy is renowned for his temporary works of art that make use of natural materials readily available in the remote locations he visits such as twigs, leaves, stones, snow, ice, reeds, and thorns. He was born in Cheshire in 1956 and was brought up in Yorkshire. He studied at Bradford College (1974-75) and Preston Polytechnic (1975-78). He currently lives in Scotland. Most of Goldsworthy’s works have been created in the natural and outdoor settings, in places as diverse as the Yorkshire Dales, Canada, the North Pole, Japan, and the Australian outback.
See a video of Andy Goldsworthy explaining his “Strangler Cairn” project below:
This story originally appeared on ARTINFO Australia.