IMPROVING Foster’s streetscape was the single most important issue identified during the recent Planning for Real exercise in which the Foster Community Association sought ideas from the public to take Foster forward.
There is every chance of success for the idea, for it is one which has long resonated with the people of Foster.
Plans were drawn up for Foster’s streetscape back in 1999 by a group of artists from Prom Coast Arts Council – Ann Parry, Catherine Blamey, Trevor Wheeler, Trevor Smith and Susan Storm.
Of the ten projects this Foster StreetLIFE Group came up with, it is interesting to note how many have been completed – and are now perhaps taken for granted by the population of Foster. There are still more to be done, but the designs are there and are a good starting point for any future development of the Foster streetscape.
Firstly there is Trevor Wheeler’s metal lyrebird sculpture, which now stands magnificently in place beside the Toora Road, just off the South Gippsland Highway, as the town entrance sign to Foster.
Sculptor Kim Devenish worked, with the support of the RSL and funding from South Gippsland Shire, on a proposal to bring the cenotaph clock casing up to the standard of the monument. The brief described a design which would “mimic the columns and pediments of the monument, with the addition of an ornamental roof and spire similar in style to the much admired Exchange Hotel tower”.
The artists had plans for the Stockyard Gallery forecourt which were not fully implemented, but in recent years Trevor Wheeler, working with others, has created some eye-catching sculptures for the lawn in front of the gallery/library complex.
The final Foster StreetLIFE Group project to have been successfully completed is the front of the Foster War Memorial Arts Centre, where in recent years Catherine Blamey’s stunning stained glass windows were put in place, along with a beautiful mosaic by Susan Storm on the floor of the veranda and a sculpture in front of the building.
Artist Susan Storm said it had been a long and at times difficult process trying to make the various design concepts a reality, made especially onerous with the need to seek funding from the shire and other bodies. She said she would be happy if Foster Community Association could pick up the ideas and run with them.
“One of our ideas was to beautify the laneway between the fish shop and supermarket, but we became bogged down in complex ownership issues. The shire only owns a small part of the land,” said Susan.
This was to be known as ‘The Promenade’ and the proposal included roofing the space and beautifying it with two and three-dimensional decorative elements, such as murals, seating, sculptures and mosaics.
Other sites and ideas identified in the plan include:
Shop facades – tying the various businesses in the town together with a variety of visually exciting complementary colours;
Mosaic trail – enhancing footpaths with a simple pebble mosaic design, with colourful mosaic mandalas in key positions along the trail, leading pedestrians through Foster;
Eating and sitting areas – including walled sitting areas with exciting architectural concepts using bricks in walls and columns with some tiled surfaces and ironwork;
Pedestrian crossing around the area of ‘The Promenade;’
A sculptured lyrebird fountain as a focal point in ‘The Promenade’ walkway between the fish shop and supermarket;
Gates and fences – suggested “shop owners backing onto the public car park give serious consideration to erecting gates and fences to cover their often necessarily visually unattractive working environments”. Sketches showed an inexpensive decorative capping that could be attached to the top of fences;
Street art – sculptural work, including perhaps totem poles, in various positions through Foster’s main street, artistic statements reflecting the town’s identity and character.
Larry Giddy of Foster Community Association said there were some good ideas in the StreetLIFE plans and the association would investigate how they could be taken further. He said the association would be happy to show people the plans and take them as a starting point for a redevelopment of the Foster streetscape when the public meeting is held shortly to discuss the results of the Planning for Real exercise.