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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Benalla sculpture to honour first Qantas chief engineer

Benalla Rural Council is seeking community feedback on a proposal to install a sculpture dedicated to Arthur Baird, the first chief engineer for Qantas and an inductee into the Australian Aviation Hall of Fame.

Commissioned by Victorian artist, Alex Sanson, the sculpture is based on a de Havilland DH50 aircraft and spans more than five metres high.

The work, constructed entirely of marine grade stainless steel, is carefully balanced to move freely in the wind. The proposed location for the sculpture, designed to be seen flying amongst the gum trees while driving down Nunn Street, is outside the Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop Learning Centre.

Mayor, Bernie Hearn said Council was seeking community input for the proposed installation of the sculpture.

Arthur Baird, the first chief engineer for Qantas.

“While at first I wasn’t aware of the achievements and career of Arthur Baird, I would like to extend my thanks to Barry O’Connor and Beverley ‘Chick’ Walker for their unwavering dedication and hard work in bringing the story of Arthur Baird to light,” Cr Hearn said.

“Without their tireless efforts and the formation of a working group comprising Baird family members, Benalla Rural City Councillors, and passionate community members, this extraordinary project would not have progressed this far.

“Their discovery of Arthur Baird and the proposal to recognise him through contemporary and engaging art is a true testament to their commitment to preserving our local history and culture.”

In January 2020, the Arthur Baird working group released an expression of interest for a sculpture design. Three submissions were received, with the winning design by Victorian artist, Alex Sanson, selected as it best represented Arthur’s engineering and aviation achievements.

In November 2020, Council secured $150,000, as part of the $2.5 million Building Works Package – this funding was secured to deliver an art sculpture trail on the shores of Lake Benalla.

The proposed Arthur Baird project fits within the concept of delivering an art sculpture trail to the lakeside precinct, said Mayor Hearn.

To have your say on the proposed aviation sculpture and to view sculpture design, visit www.haveyoursay.benalla.vic.gov.au/proposed-arthur-baird-sculpture.

Submissions close 5pm Friday 14 April 2023.

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