AN iconic lighthouse sculpture displayed at a Port Fairy gallery will become a piece of public art as the gallery shuts its doors.
Sackville Street's Wishart Gallery owner Gareth Colliton said the gallery had reached a settlement with the landlord, who had plans to sell the building, and had closed after three years.
"We absolutely loved it," Mr Colliton said of the gallery. "The community in Port Fairy is smart, creative and passionate. The business had grown into something really special, with about 10 fantastic casual staff who we can't thank enough."
As a parting gift, Mr Colliton has donated the gallery's near three-metre lighthouse sculpture crafted by a local artist to Moyne Shire Council for community display.
"I'd just like to see it go to the best use possible, and that's out in the community. It's a fun thing and adds to the Port Fairy vibe," Mr Colliton said.
Koroit-based artist Ross Altmann said he built the sculpture about 25 years ago as a display for his former Warrnambool studio.
"Another artist friend of mine suggested I should enter it in Bourke's Backyard's letter box competition. It ended up on television in the top 10 best letterboxes in Australia," Mr Altmann said.
"Lighthouses are of great significance to our history, I think it was a homage to the whole history of lighthouses they did serve such a great purpose."
Later owners of Mr Altmann's property then sold the piece to Wishart Gallery.
Formely a bricklayer like his father, Mr Altmann said the sculpture's complex curved brickwork was also a "homage to the bricklayer".
"I am humbled and honoured they have chosen to re-purpose it," he said.
A council spokeswoman said the sculpture would go into short-term storage, while councillor Jordan Lockett said the council could display it on a roundabout or at a playground.
"It's a good memento of the amazing business they've run in town for a few years," Cr Lockett said.
Mr Colliton said he and his brothers left Wishart Gallery with heavy hearts.
"My brothers and I run a few other businesses in Warrnambool and Hamilton, so we'll remain busy," he said.
"Hopefully an opportunity will pop up and allow us to return down the track, we just felt so welcomed there."
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