Fremantle artwork removal costs blow out tenfold
The cost of removing the Arc d’Ellipses artwork from Fremantle’s streets looks likely to blow out to at least 10 times what the port city council has budgeted.
The City of Fremantle had budgeted $15,000 to remove the work by Swiss artist Felice Varini but initial quotes have come back above $150,000, including one understood to be about $250,000.
The city confirmed yesterday that it would go to a formal tender process after getting quotes above the legislated threshold for councils to call for public tenders, which is $150,000. The cost and delay have frust rated some building owners and ratepayers.
Arcs d’Ellipses, which used yellow painted foil to create an optical illusion on High Street buildings, was part of last year’s High Tide exhibition. Its popularity was such that it was kept in place for months longer than planned.
The city has credited it with bringing thousands of visitors to the West End. It has already paid $105,000 for the work — just under half its $253,000 budget.
Problems with removing the foil came to light last month. Under an agreement with property owners, the council has agreed to pay for any damage to paintwork as a result of removing the artwork.
Infrastructure and projects director Graham Tattersall said the city was committed to removing the foil and restoring affected buildings “in the most effective and sensitive way”.
“Our priority is to ensure the foil comes off without impact on the buildings and so it’s important we are able to define and manage the most suitable and appropriate solution that considers each building’s individual characteristics,” he said.
“On reflection, we felt the scope was probably too broad and posed potential ambiguity and risks for contractors.
“We believe it best to take a building-by-building approach.”
Fremantle resident and High Street building owner Shane Braddock has written to Local Government Min-ister David Templeman to express his concern about the spiralling costs.
He was also sceptical that local business owners had benefited from the influx of visitors because of the artwork.