Giant Japanese artwork divides public opinion in Sydney

SYDNEY (AFP) - A giant Japanese-designed public artwork that will straddle Sydney's main street was unveiled on Tuesday, dividing opinion with supporters saying it will boost the city's reputation and critics calling it "stupid".

The steel Cloud Arch, designed by Tokyo-based Junya Ishigami, will tower up to 50 metres above busy George Street as part of the city's plan to spruce up its central business district, lanes and parks.

Two other public artworks will also be installed, including a pavilion shaped like an oversized milk crate designed by Egyptian-born artist Hany Armanious that will stand nearly 14 metres tall.

Acclaimed British artist Tracey Emin was also given the nod to create a corridor of bronze bird installations in another area of the city as part of the A$9.3 million (S$10.9 million) plan.

Not everyone agreed with the Cloud Arch design, constructed of steel plates tapered and curved in two directions and variously described as resembling a roller coaster, dental floss, or a piece of spaghetti.

"The new city centre artwork looks bloody stupid. That's the best Sydney could find/pick?" said one Twitter user, while another took exception to the pavilion, saying: "The 'milk crate' artwork looks absolutely ridiculous."

The Sydney Daily Telegraph asked: "Is Clover's head in the clouds?" - a reference to Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore - with a poll on its website showing nearly two thirds of respondents believing it was a waste of money.

But the ambitious plan also won support.

"At last something interesting and engaging in a city that is becoming so ugly due to all the greedy developers," one reader said on the Telegraph website, while another added: "I think it is brilliant. Well done Clover, love your work."

The Lord Mayor said the artworks would change the face of the city centre and shine the international spotlight on Sydney.

"The artworks selected by our expert evaluation panel will cement Sydney's reputation as a capital of culture and creativity," Mr Moore said.

"We're delighted to announce such an exciting group of artworks by some of the world's leading artists. I have no doubt they will become iconic landmarks of our city for today and future generations."

The designs were chosen from nearly 700 entries from 25 countries with installations expected from 2017.

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