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                      Wellington Gateway and Landmark Project (1993-95)                        A commentary on its history and significance Gateways: A great tradition Gateway projects have the capacity to create widespread interest in towns and communities because of their potential importance in promoting and reinforcing a strong sense of local identity. The concept is not new, as a powerful tradition has long existed worldwide of erecting 'gateways' and 'landmarks' - to achieve such purposes as commemorating a centenary or important historic event, identifying a special location, or remembering those who died in war. Further examples include erecting monumental entrances at airports, harbours, or at the entry points to a 'Chinatown' precinct, a city park or a new suburb. Planting avenues of trees along approach roads also forms part of the tradition. Front door impressions (and the 'could be anywhere' syndrome) Commercial signage from fast food chains, petrol/gas stations and the like often (by default) define the first impressions of a town or place ... and they usually do so right at its front door. By contrast the Wellington Gateway and Landmark Project has provided the community itself with the opportunity to make a memorable statement about themselves, while also announcing to travellers their arrival at Wellington township (and the area's intriguing Wellington Caves).  A local 'icon' with originality and impact When undertaken in imaginative style through the use of an outstanding artist (preferably working in association with the community), gateway sculptures frequently become attractive and exciting public attractions in their own right. At best, those with the greatest impact do not copy other places' ideas, but instead set out to create an absolutely original design - in effect an exciting public 'work of art' which ultimately comes to be regarded as a local or regional 'icon'.  The Wellington Gateway - a leading regional example Because of the excellent level of innovation and vision applied to it, the Wellington Gateway was destined to become a leading (in fact pioneering) example in rural Australia of what can be achieved by such initiatives. Like other landmarks in large cities, it has quickly become an important cultural symbol (or icon) for the Wellington community. And like many other such projects that dare to be different, it has also challenged people in many worthy ways. Controversy as a strength  During its planning stages, the project's design understandably generated much controversy. It instantly 'got people talking' and provoked enormous public debate with local news stories running inches deep for many months. Such controversy is both healthy and predictable. Artworks by their nature can stir emotions 'for and against', let alone contribute in many special ways to our quality of life, our perception of reality, sense of place and personal pleasure. A work which did not stir any feelings and emotions would most likely be very bland or predictable, and would stand little chance of creating lasting (and potentially 'timeless') public interest. But this is not the same as saying that community feelings do not matter - some ill conceived artworks can become self indulgent 'blots on the landscape'.  The great strength of the development process conducted for the Wellington Gateway was the fact that the community were not only actively consulted (with different opinions and issues also well and truly thrashed out in public), but were invited to directly participate in creating the images and themes found throughout the sculpture. (The project artist's role was to also ensure that these contributions remained cohesive and were manifested in ways that served to both enhance the 'artistic end result' and fulfil the initiative's wider aims.) Looking to the future, not just the past Communities can easily take for granted the contributions made to their quality of life ... often literally hundreds of years back ... by their forebears. For example we can thank people from these eras for many of our most beautiful parks, their spectacular, 'old growth' plants & trees ... and their accompanying recreational facilities. In cities these might include fountains, ponds, glasshouses, beachside kiosks, drinking fountains, seating, sculptures, statues and kids play facilities.. National parks, walking tracks and lodges are further priceless examples found in our wilder, more natural areas. So it is important that we also look to the future and how we too can contributenow to the needs, pleasures and interests of later generations. And while we can be inspired by their example, it is not always necessary to refer directly to the past when doing so. Exciting new projects involving a strong contemporary sense of imagination and vision can be developed. The Wellington Gateway was such a project and is all the more exciting because of it. - Bruce Dickson The Wellington Gateway: Introduction Project artist: Frances Ferguson (1962-2003)  Wellington Gateway Sculpture: Video
Wellington Gateway, New South Wales, Australia  Artist: Fran Ferguson