Say your last goodbyes to Zephyr II: Geraldton artwork on its last legs as City goes ahead with removal

Michael RobertsGeraldton Guardian
The public artwork is expected to be removed before the weekend.
Camera IconThe public artwork is expected to be removed before the weekend. Credit: Michael Roberts/Geraldton Guardian

One of Geraldton’s most controversial public artworks will be torn down in the coming days after a council decision to decommission the corroded sculpture citing costs and safety concerns.

Friday could be your last day to take a picture with infamous sculpture Zephyr II, with the City of Greater Geraldton planning to remove it before the weekend.

In October the council voted to remove the sculpture from Geraldton’s forshore after corrosion left an estimated repair bill of $20,000-$30,000.

The NSW-based artist who designed the artwork said it was disappointing to hear Zephyr II would be torn down halfway through its expected life.

“It is sad to see a work decommissioned before its time,” Dr Nigel Helyer said.

“But the rust looks pretty bad, so I wouldn’t want it to collapse on someone.”

Last month Dr Helyer sent the City a letter of demand requesting it pay him $25,000 in reputational damage, claiming the local government failed in its obligation to maintain the sculpture.

Dr Helyer said the City has since written back, refusing to pay the money and insisting it had completed maintenance work since Zephyr II was installed in 2012 at a cost of more than $160,000.

But Dr Helyer said the City hadn’t been able to provide any concrete evidence that showed repairs had taken place.

“They need to substantiate their claims,” he said.

“I’ve written back asking for conditions reports, dates and details of when they maintained it.

“Either they didn’t do the work or they haven’t got the records.”

The City has told the Guardian it won’t comment on Dr Helyer’s letter of demand, but is in the middle of assessing the condition of its entire public art collection.

In a written statement CEO Ross McKim said the City hadn’t decided what to do with Zephyr II once it was taken apart.

“The piece will be removed, as requested by the artist, and stored until its future is determined,” he said.

The council voted to offer the piece back to Dr Helyer, but he declined the invitation.

“If they can’t afford to maintain it, I certainly can’t afford to repair it,” Dr Helyer said.

“It was specifically designed for Geraldton, not for my backyard.

“What would I do with it?”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails