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A New Era for Bondi’s Mosaic Artwork

By Isabella Puentes on April 25, 2019 in News

Waverley Council will be replacing the seawall and mosaic this winter, by Dean Kelemen.

It was 1986 when Bondi locals came together to create the mosaic mural that lines the northern end of the beach. Each tile and gem was handpicked by local children and their families, ceramics were made in school art rooms, and the mirror fragments were carefully placed to catch the afternoon light at Bondi’s golden hour. Armed with tools, paint and brushes, spotlights and a strong sense of community, volunteers built the artwork which to this day remains an iconic part of the Bondi Beach landscape.
Due to identified concrete cancer and damages to the drainage system under the promenade, Waverley Council will be replacing the seawall and mosaic artwork for safety purposes this winter. The replacement of the wall is a part of the North Bondi Asset Renewal Project which will also see to the replacement of the children’s pool pump and access ramp, staircases to the promenade, and lighting and handrails.
Waverley Council’s spokesperson said the council will work with conservationists to “salvage and re-instate” the artwork where possible. It was added, “We understand how important the mosaic is to the community, and the new mosaic will be a refreshed version of its current look.”
Public art artist Peter Day expressed the importance of councils working with communities and recognising the history of public artworks when creating or renewing new projects.
“Councils seem to have a better understanding of communities than any other forms of government,” Mr Day said. “It’s the important part of people having ideas manifest, because very often people never have the option to have a say in their community.”
With over 30 years of experience in public art, Mr Day explained the intangible benefits of public artworks.
“It builds communities,” said Mr Day. “Not only do people get to know each other, there is a self-esteem value attached to the art because they participated.”
Lloyd Kelemen is a mosaic artist and was the original project officer of the artwork. Mr Kelemen, alongside a team of council members, artist Suzanne Holman, and over 150 volunteers constructed the mosaic mural.
“It really was a one-off artwork experience,” said Mr Kelemen. “This was a real hey-day of community movement.”
Recycled materials such as factory waste tiles were collected and used as part of the artwork and, despite its precarious position at the mercy of Bondi’s waves, the mosaic is in sound condition.
The community’s reaction to the renewal works of the seawall has demonstrated the importance of the artwork to Bondi’s community. Bondi resident Emily Contador-Kelsall commented on the importance of Bondi’s art culture.
“It’s a great mosaic wall that has been a part of Bondi for a long time so hopefully something just as iconic will take its place. It’s great having different spaces for art in the area,” she said.
“We’re grateful for Council’s commitment to renewing the community mosaic and look forward to seeing the refreshed artwork,” said Mr Kelemen.