Now, don't get me wrong I am a lover of the arts. I love abstract art, modern art, pastel art, historical art, dance, theatre – my list of appreciations and involvements go on. I love how art gets us thinking, challenges concepts and attitudes in our life and forces us to try and understand something that may have no explanation.
Gradually over the past few years, I have noticed many strange structures being built near airports, on highways and city entrances, and not just in Melbourne. Sometimes I see big round circles or squares of all differing colours, sometimes I see big sticks of colourful steel pointing in many different directions.
ConnectEast chairman Tony Shepherd says no other major road in Australia has attempted anything like the EastLink artwork project.
"We have put a big effort into urban design so travel on our road will be a memorable experience," Shepherd says. (www.heraldsun.com.au)
It definitely is an experience causing creative thought. James Angus' "Ellipsoidal Freeway Sculpture" left me wondering if a very large giant had left it's DNA on the side of the road.
EastLink managing director John Gardiner says that the company's $5.5million artwork program was a gift to the people of Victoria and represented the most ambitious commitment to public art on a major road in Australia. (www.frankstonweekly.com.au)
Perennial questions of where dollars "best spent"
I can't say that my travel to, or from the city is more or less exciting with these structures, however, every time I look at these structures, I am now going to see the dollar figure of $5.5million.
Fiji has recently incurred storms, floods and the threat of a cyclone. 3 million southern Sudanese people have been displaced due to civil war and are in crisis emergency food assistance status (www.wfp.org/stories/challenges-feeding-south-sudan-hungry) Or, what about right here in Australia where many in Queensland and New South Wales families and individuals have been affected by recent floods and lost their homes and/or businesses. And there are many homeless in our own cities.
Since we are made in God's image, that must include the splendid concept that we too are creative. In the Garden of Eden, Adam was to cultivate and keep the garden (Gen. 2:15) which was described by God as "very good" (Gen. 1:31). God, the Creator, a lover of beauty in His created world, invites Adam, one of His creatures, to share in the process of "creation" with Him. He has permitted us to take the elements of His universe and create new arrangement with them. Perhaps this explains the reason why creating anything is so fulfilling to us. I sincerely believe God found such fulfilment in His creation of us as well.
But, I also need ask the question; to what extent do we create, before we become negligent of the desperate needs of the poor and needy? There is nothing wrong with spending money. There is nothing wrong with spending a lot of money. However, there may be something wrong with HOW we are spending money.
Isaiah 58:6-9 says; "….What I'm interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once."
What I was pleased to find was that ConnectEast will primarily consider sponsorship of, or support for, organisations based, or doing work, in the geographic region of EastLink. There are some conditions and their company must be marketed correctly.
There are approximately 20,000 Victorians homeless each night. ConnectEast has on-going support of the Hanover ConnectEast Ride for Home to help break the cycle of homelessness. ConnectEast, the owner and operator of EastLink, agree to close the motorway and forego tolls in support of the event and cause.
Is $5.5million worth of artwork by the side of the road a good spending option? This is the question I will continue to struggle with. After all, it was a "gift" to the people of Victoria. Can I just cash in my family's part of the gift?
Belinda Croft is married to Russell and she has a son BJ, 11 years. She has a heart and passion for God, mission and social justice. Belinda is a part of Katalyst Church in Victoria and serves on the leadership team.
Belinda's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/belinda-croft.html