Council orders wool street art to go

Crafty Squirrel owner Morgan Wills, right, has been told by the council to remove her woollen art from a pole outside her store. She is standing by the yarn with fellow supporter Emma Jansen. PICTURE: KATE HEALY

Crafty Squirrel owner Morgan Wills, right, has been told by the council to remove her woollen art from a pole outside her store. She is standing by the yarn with fellow supporter Emma Jansen. PICTURE: KATE HEALY

A RAINBOW-coloured light post on the corner of a Ballarat street is hard to miss. 

The Crafty Squirrel owner Morgan Wills has been sewing recycled woollen blankets around the wooden pole outside her textile store for three years.

But on Wednesday, Ms Wills was asked by the Ballarat City Council to remove the blankets immediately from the pole on the corner of Errard and Urquhart streets.

She was told she needed to apply for a permit for the art piece. 

“They suggested that I get permission from the power company to use the pole for art,” Ms Wills said. 

“I had to laugh. I’m not angry about the situation, I’m just surprised.”

Hundreds of people flocked to social media in defence of the coloured pole, including City of Ballarat councillor Amy Johnson. “It is an iconic part of the streetscape and it’s a much-loved icon,” Cr Johnson said. 

“I will be doing all I can so that piece of artwork can stay there.” 

Ms Wills said there was a difference between yarn bombing and her artwork. 

“Yarn bombing is something that is usually done anonymously,” she said. “This is more personal. It is an expression of myself as an artist.”

Council general manager of city infrastructure Eric Braslis said a resident had made a complaint about Ms Wills breaking a local law.

“Unfortunately, council is obligated to follow up any complaint, which we have done in this case,” he said. 

“As a result ... we will also look closely at our local law to see if we can develop a commonsense approach to what is fundamentally harmless temporary public art.”

kara.irving@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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