With towering painted walls, oversized sculptures and digital installations, its clear artwork in WA has jumped out of galleries and into our streets and landscape.
Many evoke strong opinions, while others, like the statue of Eliza in the Swan who is regularly dressed as the topic of the day, have become part of the local conversation, with drivers regularly slowing down to see her latest attire.
Which, according to Lynda Dorrington, executive director of cultural organisation FORM, is a sign of public art that is well done.
“When public art is done well, it invites an emotional response to a place, getting the audience to dig deeper into the history, narrative and culture that makes a place unique.
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“My own favourite at the moment is First Contact by Lauren Nannup, and we’re also pretty partial to the Ravensthorpe silos,” says Dorrington, who's organisation has been involved in securing funding and supporting artists for many of WA's major public artworks.
“Public artwork really is so important – it has the power to energise our public spaces, get people talking and make us engage with both the natural and built environment around us.”
The WA public seem to agree. As well as Eliza's mystery stylists, social media sites are dedicated to promoting local works, Sculpture by the Sea grows every year and councils like the City of Cockburn even promote their very own Drive Thru Art Gallery.
The proliferation is not limited to Perth, with standout pieces like the Ravensthorpe silos, Lake Ballard sculptures and murals in Port Hedland drawing visitors from all over the world to our regions.
“WA now has a very strong state-wide public art collection and it’s also maturing. Instead of static monument to identity or history, there is an increased appreciation for immersive and interactive artworks that require the audience and community to become an active participant.
“People really do want to explore the places around them."
Here are some of the most interesting pieces on show in WA.
1. First Contact, Elizabeth Quay
A stunning polished aluminium sculpture at Elizabeth Quay, First Contact is the first public artwork from Noongar artist Laurel Nannup. It tells her story of the Noongar people’s first encounter with Wadjella (British settlers) in the early 1800s. The work is one of the first major Noongar public artworks in Perth’s CBD, according to FORM.
2. Inside Australia, Lake Ballard
Located on the Lake Ballard salt pan in the Goldfields, Sir Antony Gormley’s internationally renowned Inside Australia artwork has drawn many visitors to see the remote landscape since it was commissioned in 2003. The work features 51 metal figures, modelled off the nearby town’s inhabitants. Originally designed as a temporary installation, Gormley later gifted the art work to WA for the cost of $1.
3. Fizz, Perth Children’s Hospital, Subiaco
Anyone driving past the Perth Children’s Hospital would have spotted the sweeping array of 3D coloured discs. The work of Stuart Green titled Fizz, the 1600 aluminium discs range in size from 450mm to 1m in diameter and are arranged carefully based on colours and sizes across the hospital’s eastern façade, enhanced by integrated lighting in the evening.
4. The Mega Mural, Adnate Art Series Hotel, Perth
Designed by the hotel's namesake artist, Matt Adnate, this impressive piece is the tallest artwork in the Southern Hemisphere. Dubbed the 'Mega Mural', the wall features three large-scale portraits, depicting a Noongar man, an Indian woman and a Mediterranean woman.
5. Council House, Perth
A landmark in the CBD after sunset is Council House on St George’s Terrace. Lit up in spectacular fashion with designs by artists including Tom Muller and Suzanne Blake as part of the City of Perth’s Lighthouse initiative, it has been so well received it is now an ongoing project.
6. Grain silos, Ravensthorpe
Ravensthorpe’s three 25m-high grain silos have been transformed by Fremantle-based artist Amok Island, with a beautiful mural depicting the growth of the native Banksia baxteri. The artwork has become a significant landmark for the country town and is the second in a series of murals on grain silos in regional WA led by cultural organisation FORM.
7. Spanda, Elizabeth Quay
One of the most photographed features at The Landing, Elizabeth Quay, the impressive form of Christian de Vietri’s Spanda (Sanskrit for ‘divine vibration’) represents the link between river, land and sky. A landmark feature, the artwork takes the form of 29m-high ripples.
8. Impossible Triangle, East Perth
Impossible Triangle in Claisebrook Square is a clever optical illusion, appearing as a disconnected geometric sculpture from all but two locations where it forms a perfect triangle, framing the sky. The work is a collaboration between WA artist Brian McKay and architect Ahmad Abas.
9. Eliza, Matilda Bay
Just 15m from the shoreline of the Swan River, the bronze statue Eliza has become a Perth icon, capturing the imagination of the public, who regularly ‘dress’ her for various events like Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The work of renowned sculptor Tony Jones, Eliza commemorates the Crawley Baths and is named after Mount Eliza.
10. Connectus, Kings Square, Perth
Tapping into the wonderful colours of the Australian landscape, Connectus is a responsive lighting installation that reacts to the level of light at the site. Designed by Sydney-based artist Warren Langley, the work takes the form of a single line, illuminating the site and creating a connection through the spine of Kings Square.
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