Walsh has admitted with his latest project “some may think it’s gotten a little out of hand”. (Supplied: MONA)
Millionaire art provocateur and professional gambler David Walsh has officially unveiled his grand expansion vision for his Hobart art gallery MONA.
HOtel MOna features:
- Hotel rooms “elevated above the Derwent River” in inverted suspension bridge structure
- A “private, members-only, high-limits, poker machine-free (casino) for non-Tasmanians, designed as an ‘anti casino'”
- Three-level library holding “David Walsh’s large and expanding collection of rare books and manuscripts”
- Spa treatment centre “that’s hard to describe because we haven’t figured it out yet”
- Outdoor stage and amphitheatre with “children’s sculpture and an expansive playground”
- 1,075-seat indoor theatre for “a range of performances including music, circus, dance, plays, musicals, speech nights, school concerts, cinema, comedy, conferences, business launches and events”
- 1,000-capacity function and events centre for “AGM-style events, product exhibitions, conventions and performances”
- Access to HOMO “will be encouraged by water with the hotel entry integrated with the ferry terminal”
Mr Walsh, the founder of the Museum Of Old And New Art (MONA), also flagged a move north for the annual Festival Of Music and Art (FOMA) event, which will in future be held in Launceston — if the Government agrees to help finance the shift.
Appearing at a lunch for Tasmania’s tourism industry yesterday, Mr Walsh unveiled his plans for his gallery’s “next phase of growth”, which includes what MONA described in a statement as “early designs for the proposed 172-room, five-star hotel”, known as HOMO, at Berriedale, north of Hobart.
“It’s very simple really. We like building stuff. So far it has gone pretty well for us, and hopefully also for our communities,” he said ahead of the event.
“This time, some may think it’s gotten a little out of hand – the excavation alone is more than four times the size of that for the museum – but we seem to have some support, the plans have turned out pretty well, and we can’t rest on our laurels for ever.”
“The heart of MONA is chance.”
In the statement, Mr Walsh said “the build of HOMO is expected to take approximately three years from commencement and will create 300 new full-time construction jobs. When open, HOMO will deliver an additional 120 full-time jobs on an ongoing basis”.
“The proposed HOMO [HOtel MOna] development plan is yet to be submitted to Glenorchy City Council. A comprehensive consultation process with the public will be held at the same time,” the statement read.
The announcement plans include a mention of “Monaco” – a “private, members-only, high-limits, poker machine-free facility for non-Tasmanians”.
“Unlike the principles applied to the design of most casinos, Monaco would be designed as an ‘anti-casino’ and act as an outlet for art and design,” the statement said.
Mr Walsh has previously said having a casino on the MONA premises “might make it a little easier to pay for all this”.
Mr Walsh, whose annual Dark Mofo mid-winter festival enjoyed record patronage amid controversy over the Hermann Nitsch 150.Action show, is also behind a $2-billion redevelopment proposal at Hobart’s Macquarie Point precinct, with a focus on Tasmania’s colonial past and conflict with the original Aboriginal inhabitants not to the liking of some, including Hobart’s Lord Mayor.
MONA had also asked for government funding to move FOMA, MONA’s summer festival, to Launceston.
In a statement, Violent Femme’s member and festival curator Brian Ritchie said “the festival’s original 10-year plan – to change the culture in Hobart – has come to fruition ahead of schedule”.
“We’d like to embark upon a new creative journey – to relocate to Launceston in search of new challenges, new collaborations, fresh partnerships and novel creative models.
“We want to make it bigger, better, more creative, more diverse and more famous [and by famous we mean infamous],” Ritchie said.
The images of Mr Walsh’s plans were put to the Hobart audience on social media, with not all taken by the bold design.
“I don’t get it,” Breeanna said. “The current MONA building was built with great attention to making it fit in with the profile of the land and blended in. Now he wants to build that monstrosity and ruin the whole site?”
Wendy said the design “looks disgusting and doesn’t fit the Tasmanian aesthetic”.
But Charles countered with “that is its strength”.
“Good on him, let him do as he pleases. He is single-handedly driving our economy without trashing the state,” Andrew said.
“Is that a shopping trolley!” asked Jason.
“What an atrocious looking piece of crap,” was Shani’s verdict.
“For all those who are complaining it is an ‘ugly’ proposal I’d argue that any comments about it spoiling the landscape or view fail to remember that we have the lovely zinc works, Incat, the Marine Board building to name but a few,” said Nicholas.
“Which for the life of me I cannot figure out how they were built in the city of naysayers”, he added.
The HOMO library will hold David Walsh’s “large and expanding collection of rare books”. (Supplied: MONA)