Regional Case Study: ‘Wellington Gateway’A local icon with originality and impactBy Bruce Dickson (Tourism Development Solutions)Located in an attractive setting on the outskirts of the Australian township of Wellington - about 4 hours north-west of Sydney by road - this distinctive 'environmental sculpture' (with its integrated visitor information bay) has already become a significant local icon and major regional landmark. It not only signifies travelers' arrival at the entrance to Wellington itself, but also marks the Highway's turnoff to the area's ‘Wellington Caves’ attraction.BACKGROUND: Because of the excellent level of innovation and vision applied, the Wellington Gateway was destined to become a leading (in fact pioneering) example in rural Australia of what can be achieved through such initiatives. Like many other projects that dare to be different, it also challenged people in many worthy ways, with its distinctive design understandably generating much public debate and controversy.
The Wellington Gateway - Artist: Frances Ferguson
During the planning stages, the artist's design (as approved by the local Council) instantly 'got people talking' - with local news stories running hot. However, predictably, the lively debate ultimately proved entirely healthy for the project - by greatly increasing levels of awareness and renown. (Many early critics later became fans) STRENGTHS: A great strength of the development process adopted for the Wellington Gateway was that, not only were the community actively consulted by the Council and the artist (with different opinions and issues aired in public), but they were also invited to directly participate in creating the sculpture's storytelling and themes. (The project artist's role was to also ensure that these contributions remained cohesive - and were manifested in ways that served to both enhance the 'artistic end result' and fulfill the initiative's wider aims.)Note:To some observers, the many decorative elements created for this Gateway by its talented artistic team ... and the way they grow out of its bodywork ... create a feeling slightly reminiscent of the somewhat bizarre (but fascinating) decorative elements found in the architectural designs of Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona.