10 October 2023

Seven-year-old Ariah Park farmer explains the mystery behind Griffith's giant citrus sculptures

| Oliver Jacques
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boy and giant sculpture made from oranges

Conor Meehan says it’s not too difficult to make citrus sculptures, just watch out for falling oranges. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

More than 100 volunteers braved the early morning chill in Griffith last Sunday (8 October) to assemble 67 giant sculptures made from oranges, grapefruit and lemons. This created an array of Real Juice Company citrus sculptures along Banna Avenue, which forms part of the town’s flagship festival, Griffith Spring Fest.

As one of the most innovative outdoor art exhibitions in Australia, it both attracts and mystifies many visitors who flock to Griffith to see them.

READ ALSO Supreme Court case into multi-million-dollar collapse of Griffith winery could be dismissed

Seven-year-old Conor Meehan helped build the Griffith Tennis Club’s giant racquet from a frame designed by local agricultural supplier Collier Miller (which was inspired by the 13.8-metre racquet in Barellan, built in honour of tennis legend Evonne Goolagong).

Region interviewed Conor, grandson of local tennis veteran Robyn Meehan, to answer the many questions visitors have about making the sculptures.

How do you make the giant tennis racquet orange sculpture?

You wrap rubber bands around the metal parts and then loop an orange through each of them.

Is it challenging to do?

It’s not too difficult but you have to stretch the bands really wide and it kind of hurts your fingers.

Any hazards?

Last year, a couple of oranges fell on me while we were making it, one on the ear and the other one on the hand. But it didn’t hurt.

people working on sculpture made of oranges

Citrus farmer Xavier Boucher assembles the oranges near the top while Robyn and Conor do those at the base of the racquet. Matt Hockings, Lorraine Maxwell, Pat McNamara and several others from the tennis club helped out. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

How many oranges did it take for you to make the sculpture?

For me to make? You mean for everyone here to make. I don’t know how many; hundreds, I reckon.

Where do all the oranges come from?

They get donated [by local business Real Juice Company, which provides 100,000 citrus fruits in total].

What happens to all the oranges after the festival?

They get juiced.

What skills does making a giant orange sculpture help you develop for your later life?

It would help you become a builder. You have to build it good to make sure it all stays together.

boy in front of sculpture of a tennis racquet made of oranges

Conor offered a cheers to the final creation. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Do you want to be a builder when you grow up?

I want to be a builder or a teacher or a farmer.

What do you do now?

I’m on a farm near Ariah Park now and we grow all different types of crops, like wheat and canola. I go to Ariah Park Central School.

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What sort of fiscal contribution do you think the citrus sculptures make towards the local Riverina tourism economy?

[walking away] Nanna, can we go to Maccas now?

The Real Juice Company Citrus Sculptures display, held along Banna Avenue, began on 8 October and runs until Sunday, 22 October, 2023. A piano, FJ Cruiser, wheelchair, dollar sign, talking robot, sunbaking chicken, koala and guitar are among the other creations. Visitors can park free at the Griffith Visitor Information Centre carpark and then wander up the street to admire and take photos of the designs.

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