Art tribute to Harry Thompson

FOR decades, Harry Thompson was the self-appointed custodian of Shelly Beach.

The well-known local identity lived in a caravan on the beachfront and was dubbed the unofficial mayor of Shelly Beach.

Harry died in 2000.

Now a unique beach sculptural park at Shelly Beach is dedicated to Harry's memory.

Artist Sue Bell created the spiral pathway and Stephen Killick and Stephen King produced the sculptures as functional artworks in tribute to Harry.

Mrs Bell believes Harry would be pleased with the result.

"The project says a lot about him and his character."

She says the large totem is "very much like Harry", while all of the works capture his character.

Beachgoers are greeted by a large totem of Harry wearing "mayoral robes" carved by Stephen Killick and Stephen King.

The sculptural park also includes two seats, a spiral pathway and a sculptural interpretation of Harry's famous caravan, which doubles as a picnic table.

Soon after Harry's death, the community decided to dedicate a significant memorial to Harry.

The first stage involved sculptural furniture at Harry's Lookout. The sculptural park at Shelly Beach represents stage two.

Mrs Bell designed and created a spiral path inspired by a shell from Shelly Beach.

The artwork features ceramic tiles made by Jann Kesby, while the path was made by Rob Ford.

"The path is a historical reference to Harry's life and the community has given me messages to write on the tiles in his memory," Mrs Bell said.

Hastings Council is responsible for the landscaping, which involves plantings, as well as stairs and turf restoration.

Parks projects officer Mike Olzomer said the council had raised the majority of the dollars required and staff assisted the artists through landscaping.

"The council has had a large input into the finished project," he said.

"The park has been designed to be integrated within the reserve."

The project will be launched with a breakfast at Shelly Beach on February 24 at 7.30am.

This story Art tribute to Harry Thompson first appeared on Port Macquarie News.