Joanna O'Toole sculpture at Newcastle Art Gallery

SCULPTOR Joanna O’Toole has created some calm among the Laman Street chaos with her latest work unveiled outside Newcastle Art Gallery.

Valued at $35,000, the large sculpture is titled Passing Shower and is made of hoop pine, spotted gum and fibreglass.

‘‘A passing shower is needed for change and growth,’’ Ms O’Toole said.

‘‘With all the change in Laman Street, I thought it suited it.’’

The Marks Point sculptor used traditional boat building techniques to craft the art work and said that boats represented a journey.

Laman Street has been embroiled in controversy since Newcastle City Council, with the support of the riot squad, removed the iconic trees before dawn on January 31 last year.

More recently the redevelopment of the art gallery has been overshadowed by financial drama and council has decided to cap the cost of the project at $21million.

Ms O’Toole created the sculpture for the art gallery after winning the Ford Grant last year.

Supported by Chris and Helen Ford of Fordcomm public relations, the $6000 grant is awarded to a promising artist studying at Hunter TAFE.

Ms O’Toole has a background in fine art and ran a hand-crafted timber furniture business from Sydney with her husband before relocating to Lake Macquarie in 2007.

‘‘We like the lifestyle of being on the lake. It has given me more time to create and that’s what I needed,’’ she said.

A mother of three, Ms O’Toole has had sculptures in the Montalto Sculpture prize in Victoria and Sculpture in the Vines in the Hunter Valley.

Passing Shower will be on display in front of Newcastle Art Gallery until mid-May.

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