Expressions of Interest sought for major pelican public artwork

Forty-one years ago, in 1979, Peter Mauger was working at Clifford’s Fish Shop and decided one day that instead of taking the scraps of fish to the tip, he would feed some of the local pelicans at The Entrance.

“They came in like big jumbo jets” he said, and that was the beginnings of daily feedings and a local tourist attraction known around the world.

After 40 years, Central Coast Council is now looking to showcase the iconic pelican feeding with a new major public artwork or sculpture.

The old stone pelican sculpture on the waterfront at present has weathered over time, which spurred Councillor Bruce McLachlan to enhance the town’s symbolic image.

“I looked at it and thought that surely we can do better than that for a 40-year-old world known tourist operation,” he said.

“If that’s going to be our iconic pelican feeding emblem, it’s not a very good look.

“That was the catalyst.

“If you go down to The Entrance, apart from some very old faded flags, there’s no destination branding, it’s really poor.

“If you go there in the morning you wouldn’t even know that there was pelican feeding in the afternoon.”

Council has decided to call an Expressions of Interest tender for a large scale landmark pelican sculpture or artwork with an environmental message, and that has pleased Cathy Gilmore, from Australian Seabird Rescue Central Coast, who said a bright new sculpture would create educational opportunities about pelicans and related environmental issues.

“So many people are unaware of the consequences of their actions in regards to plastics and rubbish in the ocean,” she said.

“Here’s a really great opportunity to create a beautiful piece of art with a strong message, and we would really like that to be a part of the message, because that’s what we are all about, education.

“The sculpture will be there 24/7 as opposed to the pelican feeding once a day, when people are enjoying the antics of pelicans and might miss the educational message.

“We have a really healthy population of about 500 pelicans, sometimes up to a thousand, all around Tuggerah lakes, and a lot of them call The Entrance home.

“The Entrance just simply would not be The Entrance without the pelicans, so I think this new artwork idea is brilliant.”

Gilmore said she hoped the old sculpture would stay because it was part of history and Cr McLachlan indicated that it was likely to stay and even have a bit of a makeover.

Cr McLachlan said there would be consultation with the local arts community about the sculpture and perhaps schools would be invited to put in Expressions of Interest.

Following a decision on the sculpture design and costing, Council will seek a State Government Arts Grant to finance construction of the artwork and Cr McLachlan said that process could take more than 12 months.

Interviews, May 19,
Cr Bruce McLachlan
Cathy Gilmore, Australian Seabird Rescue Central Coast
Reporter: Sue Murray