ENCHROACHED UPON: Tony Hart at the Jetty Foreshore pathway which features his artwork.
ENCHROACHED UPON: Tony Hart at the Jetty Foreshore pathway which features his artwork. TREVOR VEALE

Indigenous artist says his work has been destroyed

AN indigenous artist is considering taking legal action over what he considers to be the destruction of his artwork at the Jetty Foreshores.

Gumbaynggirr artist Tony Hart created a large turtle on the pathway leading to the pedestrian railway crossing.

It depicts his cultural and spiritual connection with the land and sea, and the Jetty Foreshore.

"I grew up here with my family and I have been blessed with many significant cultural stories which have been passed by the many generations in my family,” Mr Hart said.

A series of youth art panels have been installed on the inside of three raised concrete sections that circle the edge of the turtle.

He was asked to attend an opening of the project on October 25.

"Upon looking at the youth art element project within my artwork I felt gutted, annoyed, frustrated, not consulted, betrayed and most importantly I felt that my artwork was destroyed and not a true representation of the sea turtle story which belongs to me,” he wrote in a letter to Coffs Harbour City Council's strategic asset management group leader Glenn O'Grady.

"The youth art element interfered with my artwork and raises cultural intellectual property rights concerns as my work has been contaminated by other artists.

"It's not the kids' fault - it's the adults behind it that put them in this position.”

He is asking that the panels be removed and that council develop a formal process on cultural protocol.

Coffs Harbour City Council has committed to finding a solution.

"Council gave Uncle Tony Hart a commitment before Christmas that we would be very happy to work with him and the student artists involved on a way forward once the schools are back in February,” a council representative said.



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