South West artist to leave Dardanup home in response to potential waste facility expansion

Losing an icon: Artist Russell Sheridan will be leaving the region in response to the potential expansion of the Banksia Road tip. Picture: Pip Waller
Losing an icon: Artist Russell Sheridan will be leaving the region in response to the potential expansion of the Banksia Road tip. Picture: Pip Waller

AN ICONIC South West artist will soon be leaving the region in response to what he describes as a "concerning situation" at the Cleanaway-owned waste management facility at Crooked Brook.

Russell Sheridan, who is known for creating the famous Fergus the Bull sculpture, located on the Forrest Highway, and the fire sculpture for the Shire of Dardanup's annual Bull and Barrel Festival, will be leaving his Crooked Brook home in early 2022, after 42 years.

His property, which is part of the annual Dardanup Art Spectacular art trail, features dozens of Mr Sheridan's sculptures and a studio gallery featuring both his work and that of his wife, artist Linda Skrolys.

The Crooked Brook waste management facility was built in 1996.

In November, the Shire of Dardanup refused a request from Cleanaway to install three new waste cells at the tip.

The decision will go to the State Administration Tribunal, with a decision expected on May 27.

Do I want to leave? No, but the fact of the matter is the longer I stay here, the bigger that tip gets, and then the less this place is worth.

Russell Sheridan

Mr Sheridan said he had frequently dealt with both noise and physical pollution to his property, which was located three kilometres from the site.

"Because we get strong easterly winds here, waste residue and other dust gets into my water tanks so I have to disconnect and clean them out often.

"Then there's the noise - sometimes it sounds like I've got a digger or a bulldozer reversing in my paddock, I often hear the beep, beep, beep at 4am in the morning."

A Cleanaway spokesperson said it would be "inappropriate" to comment on current matters before the expansion issue went to the State Administrative Tribunal.

"Cleanaway provides a vital service to the Western Australian community by allowing the safe and convenient disposal of waste," the spokesperson said.

Dardanup Environmental Action Group has been fighting the expansion of the tip since 1999.

Dozens of sculptures: Mr Sheridan pictured with one of his favourite pieces. Picture: Pip Waller

Dozens of sculptures: Mr Sheridan pictured with one of his favourite pieces. Picture: Pip Waller

Mr Sheridan is a prominent member of the group.

"We are deeply sorry that Russell has been put in this impossible position and has had to make this heart wrenching decision," group leader Heather Elliot-Smith said.

"As an artist working outside to create sculptural pieces, I can't imagine the impact pollution would have on work.

"Russell and Linda's home is a unique oasis that is enjoyed by thousands of visitors to the area each year."

Mr Sheridan said health had always been important to him, especially after Linda "almost died" a few years ago.

"Linda's dad had stomach cancer so she used to get her stomach checked via colonoscopy every five years.

"She took PicoPrep - which pretty much strips your gut - but her stomach didn't 're-set' properly and she was critically sick for months.

"It was really eye opening to go through.

"When you have a close shave like that, it really forces you to stand up and take notice of what's happening around you."

Fergus the Bull: One of Mr Sheridan's prominent pieces marking the gateway to the Ferguson Valley. Picture: Pip Waller

Fergus the Bull: One of Mr Sheridan's prominent pieces marking the gateway to the Ferguson Valley. Picture: Pip Waller

He expressed sadness at leaving Dardanup which he said had been "such a great community".

"Do I want to leave? No, but the fact of the matter is the longer I stay here, the bigger that tip gets, and then the less this place is worth."

"Landfills are like cauldrons - all of our ills are percolating in that tip."

Mr Sheridan will continue to make art after his relocation to Hamelin Bay.