Coffs Harbour ugly, art critic says

A SYDNEY art critic has slammed Coffs Harbour as 'soulless', 'architecturally ugly' and a city with too much focus on sport and not enough 'heart'.

In an article about the recently announced Eutick Memorial Still Life Award (EMSLA), Sydney Morning Herald art writer John McDonald went to town on our fair town.

“Coffs Harbour is a study in affluence without taste,” Mr McDonald wrote.

“The city centre is architecturally so ugly and soulless that it is virtually irredeemable [and] the city is inordinately proud of its sports and leisure facilities and is business savvy but it has no heart.”

Coffs Harbour City Council deputy mayor, Bill Palmer, called the comments 'severe'.

“It's like the art world itself, there's always a vast difference of opinion,” Cr Palmer said.

“A lot of businesses are improving their outlook and making the CBD more attractive, and Coffs is keeping up with other places.”

Cr Palmer said he doubted whether he'd shout McDonald a beer, but he hopes the critic will return to Coffs Harbour in the future.

“There are things in the pipeline that I'd like him to see, such as the upgrade of Brelsford Park, which will be a great feature for the city and has the potential to be something out of the ordinary,” Cr Palmer said.

But the review wasn't entirely bad, with Mr McDonald calling the Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery a bright spot in a cultural wasteland.

“If there is one ray of hope it is the regional gallery, which deserves to be re-housed in a building more suited to its ambitions,” he wrote.

Mr McDonald praised the work of director Leigh Summers and volunteers for the recent EMSLA, though the barbs stayed out even when he was being complimentary.

“They have managed to engineer something so dynamic in such an unpromising location,” he wrote.

The critic also compared our city to Grafton, with their regional gallery receiving more kudos than ours due to being 'an attractive old weatherboard building in a well-preserved part of town'.

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