Warrnambool Art Gallery’s contribution to The Standard’s 140th birthday celebrations — its own humorous version of the newspaper — has taken many readers by surprise.
Many readers failed to see the artistic merit in the four-page supplement included in Saturday’s paper, even though it had an explanatory message from the editor on page two and the stories were clearly made up.
The Standard received more than 30 text messages, mostly from readers who seemed to have believed the stories about hoons finding the Mahogany Ship, suggested name changes for Warrnambool, a piece of public art on lappers and proposed footy rule changes to allow round balls.
Most of the comments were about the name change story which suggested Framlingbool, Lady Bay or Mahogany.
“There are far more important things for council to do than change our city’s name,” said JS.
And staythesame said “why change it after 150 years, every town has nick names”.
Footfan asked “round footy, bringing in skirts as well?”.
The intention to stir public debate is in keeping with the gallery’s new goal of trying to engage the community more with provocative humour, hence its rebranding to WAG.
Gallery spokesman Gareth Colliton said the supplement was simply to get the audience thinking and talking about the role of the modern newspaper.
“The WAG is encouraging a bit of playful free-thinking in the hope of making some cultural change and our foray into print media is one aspect of that,” he said.
“With the help of media artist Peter Burke we have created an irreverent piece of artwork for every home in Warrnambool.
“The Saturday Standard, including the artwork, costs $1.70 (which is pretty cheap for art, might I add), so I estimate that Burke’s articles took up about two cents’ worth of space.
“We hope everybody took the project in the best possible light, but to those whom we have offended I ask — if we don’t put our two cents in, how can we get change?”
Burke, who has completed similar assignments in other centres, said he would be keen to do another Warrnambool supplement, this time involving more public contribution.
“I think it’s great that The Standard and art gallery have been brave enough to take it on,” he said.
“It is fantastic people have responded so passionately to topics that are obviously important to them.”
The Standard editor Steve Kelly said Burke was chosen to create a cheeky and gently-subversive alternative version of the paper which would get people talking.
“It seems he has achieved his aim,” Mr Kelly said