Forget the Big Banana – we can have the Big Celebrity-Who-Left-Newcastle


Our Lord Mayor

was quoted in The Herald yesterday with a suggestion on how to solve Our Fig Problem. He has suggested that the trees could be chopped down and the stumps carved into statues. He suggested that possible subjects for the sculptures could be famous locals. 

The article said ‘Cr Tate looked to Tasmania for inspiration to suggest a potential compromise.’

He quotes the example of Legerwood in Northeastern Tasmania where trees planted in memory of local men lost in WW1 were judged (no doubt by an ‘Independent Arborist’) to be dangerous and in need of removal. (I shouldn’t sound cynical.)

It was decided to carve the tree stumps into likenesses of soldiers rather than lose them altogether. You can see the sculptures here. There’s also one photo of the conifers that were to be taken out. I mentioned this scheme to a friend and she pointed out that one could have a wonderful time with Photoshop.

The Lord mayor’s suggestion while apparently thoughtful shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the issue. In Tasmania the trees represented the memory and sacrifice of local young men. This is presumably why the community were happy to retain remnants of the trees. (One wonders whether they were just baffled by the reports written by Independent Arborists who said the trees were dangerous.)

In Laman Street we will be left with a desert if we have the tree stumps but lose the canopy.The leaves and branches, thanks very much, are actually the parts of the tree the community want. To walk up the street in summer to look at likenesses of locals will be unpleasant not only because it can get to 40 degrees C and more but because we’ll have to look at the facade of the Cultural Centre. Beautiful close up but too stark without the figs. In my humble opinion.

 I look forward to the ideas about replacement species at the council briefing in just over a week – bet you twenty cents it doesn’t come up. They know there is no satisfactory substitute in this street for Hill’s figs. That’s why they’re so quiet on the topic.

Write out 100 times: the trees are not dangerous.

And please council – get rid of the stuff at the corner of Laman Street: it looks horrible – still – and big congrats to council for the new anti-graffiti wall in King Street and to the Art Gallery for the new sculpture outside the gallery. Which beautifully reflects the arching branches of the figs. Cheers.  Home.



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3 Responses to “Forget the Big Banana – we can have the Big Celebrity-Who-Left-Newcastle”

  1. Melpo Says:

    The trees should be ground into stumps. The sculptures should be of ALL the councillors who vote to have the Laman Street Figs mutilated in order to immortalise the immense intellectual fortitude inherent in the idea. With one exception, the Mayor should be depicted full-bodied so that the community can forever admire the rear aspect that might have been the genesis of the whole idea.

  2. Donna Says:

    OMG! Is he serious? This would have to be the worst idea ever! Imagine the ugliness. Imagine the heat. Imagine the embarrassment. Newcastle – the home of the big stumps. Puke!

  3. Ali Says:

    To me those tree sculptures look more dangerous & less aesthetically pleasing than any of current Laman streets tree canopy! Pretty sad when a Mayor claiming vision really just doesnt even get the picture. Laman st already has successful well lit majestic & iconic living sculptures.

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