One man's artistic vision is a small town government's legal battle.
Tony Phantastes had a vision. In the middle of a small Australian town, he was going to create an artistic wonderland to document the history of Australian land-use practices and to commemorate his father’s life and death.
Phantastes began his sculpture called “Dreamers Gate” (and alternatively “Homage to My Father”, “Homage to the Dead Bushranger” and “Homage to the Landscape”) in 1993 on a six-acre property he owned in the small town of Collector, Australia.
Phantastes father had been contracted each year to clear the land of vegetation, as well as the dry grass, and dead trees from this once fertile region. The sun-bleached landscape that resulted from his father’s work helped create the dramatic backdrop and inspiration for”Dreamers Gate”
The sculpture itself is 24 meters long and 7 meters high, a sort of over-sized, mythical-looking fence leading to a gate looking out onto the prairie land. Made from wire, concrete, piping and covered with a skin of plaster, chicken wire, and a final layer of cement, it looks like a blend of gothic castle, Middle Earth, and the spider web of a giant arachnid. Despite this, Phantastes says it is not meant to be morbid, but a celebration of life.
Unfortunately, the local government didn’t see it that way. A 1999 Gunning Shire Council citation began what would be a long and expensive legal battle for the artist. The work was deemed structurally unstable, the artist was fined, and a “stop work” order was issued. The piece has been scheduled for demolition for the last 10 years and remains unfinished. Nonetheless, the artist continues to fight for the sculpture.
Ironically, while the artist and the city have been battling over its fate, the piece has started to rust and has indeed become structurally unstable.
It remains to be seen whether “Dreamers Gate,” a project began more than a decade and a half ago, will ever get to be finished.
Know Before You Go
Take the main road through Collector.
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