THE controversial sculpture “I Am” by Flinders artist Andrew Rogers was unveiled on a roundabout in Flinders on Saturday by Australian National Gallery director Gerard Vaughan in front of more than 300 people.
The 3.7-metre high silicon, bronze and stainless steel work on a 60-centimetre base divided the small coastal community when it was publicly proposed by Flinders Community Association as one way to mark the town’s 150th anniversary in 2014.
Many residents were unhappy with the process of choosing the sculptor as well as its location. A security man guarded the work for several nights before Saturday following rumours of impending vandalism.
Dr Vaughan told the crowd the work was part of the artist’s “Weightless” series, had an “almost kinetic feel” and was “a great community asset”.
Critics have described it as Flinders’ “big banana” or seaweed and that many almost identical works by Rogers are in existence.
The work is at the junction of Cook and Wood streets opposite Flinders Hotel and replaced a tree.
About 40 people donated money for the $100,000 work, which Mornington Peninsula Shire “bought” from the association for $10.
When shire councillors approved the project last August it was agreed the sculpture and its location would be reviewed in two years.
After the unveiling, which saw several people having to manually remove its cover when the rope system failed, mayor Cr Bev Colomb and area councillor Tim Wood cut a birthday cake celebrating the town’s 150th and the pub’s 125th.