Saturday, May 29, 2010

Welcome to my Nightmare...

(Click on photo to enlarge).

If you happen to be driving to or from Canberra, take the time to make a slight detour off the Federal Highway and visit the village of Collector, located just this side of Lake George. The unusual name comes from the Aboriginal name for the region, colegdar.

Why visit? Not because it is a historic township dating back to the 1840’s, although that is of interest. Not because there are some interesting buildings to look at, including the old church. Nor because the old pub, the Bushranger Hotel, built in 1860, serves a good counter lunch and has a display of old firearms and memorabilia. Nor because in 1865 John Dunn, a member of Ben Hall’s gang, shot the local Constable Samuel Nelson dead in the main street whilst Hall and John Gilbert held up the hotel (and hence the change of name to the Bushranger Hotel). Nelson was the father of eight children; Dunn was hanged in 1866, aged 20.

Stop by because after you have had a look at the memorial to Constable Nelson, made a visit to the old church and had lunch in the Bushranger Hotel, you should walk across the road and look at the sculpture that feels like something out of The Twilight Zone. Take the opportunity for a look before it disappears.

It’s called Dreamer’s Gate and it’s by a chap called Tony Phantastes. It’s also known as Homage to My Father in that Phantastes intended it to be a homage to the life and death of his father, as well as documenting land use practices. Constructed between 1993 and 1997 but as yet unfinished, the gothic looking structure is made primarily of chicken wire and cement. It is 7m high, was intended to be 38m long and shows eerie figures, hands, weird trees, branches and shapes.

For the last 10 years Phantastes has been battling Gunning Shire Battle which wants the sculpture demolished. When the Council took him to the Land & Environment Court for demolition orders on the basis that it was unsafe, Phantastes braced it and had an engineer certify it safe. Nonetheless he was ordered to pay costs. The Council still wants demolition (although a 2007 report states that the Council is in discussions with the artist), the land is up for sale and the sculpture is beginning to deteriorate for lack of maintenance. See it before it is history as well.


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