Biennale Bother

Do You Trust The Fremantle Herald?

The Fremantle Herald has been the community's friend for many years since its foundation exactly 22 years ago. It used to fearlessly cover significant local issues in a balanced way.

In recent years the paper's pro council bias has become increasingly evident, and the question we ask you: Do you now trust the Fremantle Herald?

Look at the way the Fremantle Herald (above) and the Post newspaper ((top) reported this week exactly the same issue concerning the Biennale- the concrete art along the riverfront. 

The Herald goes to great lengths to defend the concrete art without outlining any of the detailed concerns of the Fremantle Society and local residents, who were not even consulted.

The opposition to the 'site specific artwork' - a tribute to a dead concrete artist with no relevance to 'river crossings'-  is described by the Herald as 'invective.'

You can decide what invective there is in the following respectful letter written to Biennale organiser Tom Muller by the Fremantle Society and copied to the Herald:

Thank you for the prompt response.

The Fremantle Society has worked for 50 years to protect and enhance Fremantle's history and heritage.

We always try to be respectful of the areas we work in and comment upon.

The Biennale provides an interesting range of events that have the theme of river crossings, though we see misrepresentation of history with invalid assertions about CY OConnor, and even the incorrect date being used concerning the port. Hopefully the treatment of history is balanced and you show not just Aboriginal history, but also the importance of the bridges in their current location, particularly in terms of the first bridges saving the river from destruction from large ships venturing upriver.

We consider the concrete path painting to be desecration of a peaceful riverfront historical setting, and a permanent installation unlike the light footprint promised at this and earlier Biennales like 2017 - which was not delivered with the yellow lines.

In a world ravaged by covid, many are feeling mental health issues, and the need to respect important natural riverscapes is paramount as people get so much pleasure from such places. If stories are told of the area, which they should be,  the stories should be relevant to the area.

That is why for example we are making such an effort to do a good video of the significance of the heritage listed wooden bridge.

We ask that you not complete the concrete art work.

The Biennale works, which in 2017 cost ratepayers over $350,000 and already this year has cost ratepayers $150,000, are supposed to be TEMPORARY. The Herald quotes Mr Muller as saying that: 'the artwork was made permanent after the state's environmental  watchdog (DBCA) expressed concern about any toxins leaching into the river from temporary paint.'

That statement is false. DBCA (Department of Biodiversity) have stated:

'At no time did DBCA advise that the paint was required to be permanent or that temporary paints could not be used.'

This divisive, destructive concrete path that has no relevance to the river or its history is a repeat of the 2017 Felice Varini yellow line fiasco in High Street, and both Fremantle and East Fremantle Councils need to clean this mess up.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

0409 22 36 22


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