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Owl sculpture vandal clearly lacking in #BelcoPride

By Charlotte Harper - 25 October 2016 17

'Owl' by Bruce Armstrong defaced. Photo: Charlotte Harper

Some vandal thinks they’re a bit of a comedian and has spray-painted a lewd image on the base of the owl sculpture at the intersection of Belconnen Way and Benjamin Way.

Former chief minister Jon Stanhope launched the Bruce Armstrong sculpture on the site in May 2011, and it has been contentious ever since.

'Owl' by Bruce Armstrong defaced. Photo: Charlotte Harper

It honours the Powerful Owl, the largest owl species in Australasia. Mr Armstrong set out to portray the majestic bird as a guardian spirit or totem overlooking its domain. I love this about his work. It provides a sense that you are arriving in a new place, and that this place may be worth visiting despite the otherwise dull surroundings. For me it is representative of Belconnen’s transformation from a bland town centre with a shopping mall to a community hub with a lakeside restaurant and arts precinct that rivals anything on offer across the city.

'Owl' plaque.

Unfortunately for Mr Armstrong, there is a running joke around town that from the back, the owl is somewhat reminiscent of a penis. This is presumably why an image of said male appendage now appears on the pedestal alongside the word vagina and other graffiti.

Hopefully one of our new Ginninderra MLAs is filled with so much #BelcoPride they get straight onto the crew in the ACT Department of Transport and City Services to ask that it be cleaned off ASAP (there’s a chance that someone has already done so between our visit and the publication of this article, in which case, we applaud their efforts).

Meanwhile, I suggest that with Crime Stoppers’ Dob in a Dealer campaign having come to an end, we make November Dob in a Vandal month.

Do you know who is responsible for defacing the poor owl’s perch? You can contact Crime Stoppers anonymously on 1800 333 000 or send them a tip-off via https://act.crimestoppers.com.au/crime-stoppers-information-report#main-content

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17 Responses to
Owl sculpture vandal clearly lacking in #BelcoPride
1
Maryann Mussared 10:38 am
25 Oct 16
#

The poor old Belconnen Owl! Plonked down in the middle of a median strip and it can’t even see Parliament House. Belconnen fared well under Jon Stanhope’s much reviled Percent for Art programme which was of course funded by ratepayers. Unfortunately this artwork, along with most others in the programme, was selected by a committee. That didn’t go down well with the locals. Belconnen Town Centre was also blessed with the wonderful installation of graceful yellow reeds – “Dancers by the Lake” by Konstantin Dimopoulos which unfortunately is a regular focus of Friday night alcohol-fuelled enthusiasm on Emu Bank and it has been a constant maintenance headache since first installed in 2010. I too was a bit of a detractor of the owl until I saw more work of the incredibly talented Bruce Armstrong. A pair of what seem even larger owls stand majestically on guard outside the Grand Hyatt on Russell Street Melbourne. On my recent visit to the NGV, I greatly enjoyed a survey exhibition of Bruce’s work, both big and small, and it was recently well reviewed in a major weekend newspaper. Even more surprising is the Belconnen Arts Centre has acquired the maquette of the owl and this dear little creature, barely a metre tall, sits in a showcase in the foyer. And the chance of catching vandals in Belconnen…?

2
chewy14 12:44 pm
25 Oct 16
#

Seems to be an improvement rather than vandalism.

3
pajs 1:18 pm
25 Oct 16
#

Owl is good. Belco could do with a few more good sculptures, I reckon.

4
Acton 4:47 pm
25 Oct 16
#

Is it vandalism, or is it art? Manifestations of so-called art around Canberra are designed to be confrontational. The artist enjoys making the viewer uneasy when they see the object. It shows the artist’s independence from and contempt for the wage earning, mortgage paying class. The public must just pay their taxes, levies and rates, then stand well back and gape in dutiful awe at the artist’s creation. Any green space is simply a venue waiting to be adorned with bits of metal welded together. Give it a funky name and it then becomes art.

After all, the art is in the description, not the object. The greater art is in the scam of obtaining public funding for private fantasies.

So grow a hipster beard, put on a floppy hat, call yourself an artist, get a grant and create some confrontational art. Let’s see. What about a large flying mutant turtle with big titties? Too ridiculous for public funding? No, it’s been done. Ok, how about burying some encyclopaedias by the lake to illustrate the clash between Western and Indigenous knowledge. Nope, it’s been done too.
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/the-walk-around-lake-burley-griffin-just-got-a-whole-lot-more-interesting-as-artists-install-their-works-for-contour-556-20161020-gs6o7u.html

Well there is a large owl in Belconnen…. Disfigurement and offence. Such pet subjects for our local artists. Some call it vandalism. Some call it art. Do they know the difference?

5
Maryann Mussared 5:58 pm
25 Oct 16
#

Acton said :

Is it vandalism, or is it art? Manifestations of so-called art around Canberra are designed to be confrontational. The artist enjoys making the viewer uneasy when they see the object. It shows the artist’s independence from and contempt for the wage earning, mortgage paying class.

The public must just pay their taxes, levies and rates, then stand well back and gape in dutiful awe at the artist’s creation. Any green space is simply a venue waiting to be adorned with bits of metal welded together. Give it a funky name and it then becomes art.

After all, the art is in the description, not the object. The greater art is in the scam of obtaining public funding for private fantasies.

So grow a hipster beard, put on a floppy hat, call yourself an artist, get a grant and create some confrontational art. Let’s see. What about a large flying mutant turtle with big titties? Too ridiculous for public funding? No, it’s been done. Ok, how about burying some encyclopaedias by the lake to illustrate the clash between Western and Indigenous knowledge. Nope, it’s been done too.
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/the-walk-around-lake-burley-griffin-just-got-a-whole-lot-more-interesting-as-artists-install-their-works-for-contour-556-20161020-gs6o7u.html

Well there is a large owl in Belconnen…. Disfigurement and offence. Such pet subjects for our local artists. Some call it vandalism. Some call it art. Do they know the difference?

If Archie Moore had been a local, he would have known he could directly source his books, probably for free, directly from Lifeline Canberra. They have the greatest of difficulty in moving on sets of old encyclopedias… Generally only artists and hampsters, sorry hipsters, trying to create a particular look are interested in dusty old books. Lifeline has been a generous source of assistance for artists who work with books for the past eight years…

6
madelini 9:38 am
26 Oct 16
#

I love the owl, and find it incredibly sad when public art is defaced (including when one of the figurines from the little men sculpture was continuously stolen, prompting the statue’s relocation to Gorman House). Have some pride, people.

The fact that the owl is vaguely phallic is beside the point. I would be surprised if the artist had been unaware of the likeness – artists are often highly aware of how their works can be seen – it’s still fantastic. If Belconnen doesn’t want it, I’ll gladly take it. And to all those saying “but is it art?”, can you explain to me how it is not?

7
Blen_Carmichael 1:57 pm
26 Oct 16
#

#BelcoPride ? This ex-Kambah boy is having a good laugh.

Flame away, Yankees.

8
BunLover 7:16 pm
26 Oct 16
#

I wanted to share this photo of Narrabundah’s all-wood tribute to the Belco Owl, but couldn’t, so have made it my profile photo.

9
A Nonny Mouse 7:28 pm
27 Oct 16
#

For what it’s worth, I like the owl and suggest it should be named Jon. Some public art is a wonderful thing and its cost was a trivial proportion of the overall territory budget. What is the point in having a society if we can’t collectively do things that we couldn’t do individually – practical stuff like roads, hospitals and garbage collection but also a bit of fun stuff too.

10
curmudgery 10:01 pm
27 Oct 16
#

Is it art or is it vandalism, you ask? Well, it’s art if someone calls it art and then gets miffed and huffy if anyone disagrees. But this really is art: it’s an example of the FAM(e) school – Furtive Art Movement (environmental). Not my style, you understand: no depth.

I suggest the charcoal base is repainted Army camouflage colours – disruptive pattern I think they call it. That would be in keeping with the idea of the owl in bushland, the inevitable FAM(e) works would be harder to see and the periodic touch-up maintenance quite easy. You need three colours green, brown and black and a ladder. It can all be done by the end of the month. Schedule a quarterly inspection.

11
jcitizen 2:32 am
19 Nov 16
#

Acton said :

Is it vandalism, or is it art? Manifestations of so-called art around Canberra are designed to be confrontational. The artist enjoys making the viewer uneasy when they see the object. It shows the artist’s independence from and contempt for the wage earning, mortgage paying class.

The public must just pay their taxes, levies and rates, then stand well back and gape in dutiful awe at the artist’s creation. Any green space is simply a venue waiting to be adorned with bits of metal welded together. Give it a funky name and it then becomes art.

After all, the art is in the description, not the object. The greater art is in the scam of obtaining public funding for private fantasies.

So grow a hipster beard, put on a floppy hat, call yourself an artist, get a grant and create some confrontational art. Let’s see. What about a large flying mutant turtle with big titties? Too ridiculous for public funding? No, it’s been done. Ok, how about burying some encyclopaedias by the lake to illustrate the clash between Western and Indigenous knowledge. Nope, it’s been done too.
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/the-walk-around-lake-burley-griffin-just-got-a-whole-lot-more-interesting-as-artists-install-their-works-for-contour-556-20161020-gs6o7u.html

Well there is a large owl in Belconnen…. Disfigurement and offence. Such pet subjects for our local artists. Some call it vandalism. Some call it art. Do they know the difference?

Well said…

12
jcitizen 2:40 am
19 Nov 16
#

madelini said :

I love the owl, and find it incredibly sad when public art is defaced (including when one of the figurines from the little men sculpture was continuously stolen, prompting the statue’s relocation to Gorman House). Have some pride, people.

The fact that the owl is vaguely phallic is beside the point. I would be surprised if the artist had been unaware of the likeness – artists are often highly aware of how their works can be seen – it’s still fantastic. If Belconnen doesn’t want it, I’ll gladly take it. And to all those saying “but is it art?”, can you explain to me how it is not?

You will gladly take it, but would you gladly pay the $450K like the rate payers did, and then that again to repair it?? No wonder Canberra is the laughing stock of the Nation..How about you take the mangled mess that looks like the steel in the bridge that collapsed out Mitchell way? Or the orange thing out at Kambah with those googly eyes? What a massive joke. No wonder no one takes politicians seriously..Muppets…

13
rommeldog56 8:29 am
19 Nov 16
#

jcitizen said :

No wonder Canberra is the laughing stock of the Nation. What a massive joke. No wonder no one takes politicians seriously..Muppets…

I think that “roadside art” program (instituted by Stanhope I think) has been discontinued ? In any event, yes, Canberra is still widely regarded as a laughing stock of the nation. And little wonder, but its probably ACT voters/ratepayers who are the “muppets” and they have again returned the ACT Labor/Greens Go’t – not even an independent in sight to hold the balance of power. ACT politicians just take advantaged of that voter/ratepayer apathy. There are just far too many overpaid people in Canberra to whom a bit of highly expensive and obscure road side art, means nothing.

14
dungfungus 12:42 pm
19 Nov 16
#

I would be receptive to Skywhale being returned to Canberra and somehow being permanently moored above the Legislative Assembly building in London Circuit.

While I don’t like it in any “art” way, I believe it stands as the greatest practical joke ever played on the leaders of Canberra buy an ex-Canberran.

Some would refer to it as “revenge art”.

Looking forward to a “Skywhale Levy” on my next rate/land tax notice.

15
jcitizen 1:13 pm
20 Nov 16
#

Ever wondered why some “societies” actually worship a 40ft concrete statue of an owl?

I will give you a hint. It is very illuminati-ng.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=up4NZ_q247E

Go to 20.32 It is all there for those that are interested.

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