$1.3m art for Elizabeth Quay

Stephen Bevis
Impression of Christian de Vietri’s sculpture, Spanda, to be installed at Elizabeth Quay.

Elizabeth Quay will be crowned by a towering $1.3 million entry-statement designed to reflect the rippling of water and the link between the river, land and sky.

The steel and carbon fibre sculpture, by WA artist Christian de Vietri, will be installed in December in the main public event space The Landing.

Titled Spanda and standing 29m, or the height of an eight-storey building, it is biggest of ten artworks in the precinct’s $4 million Percent for Art Scheme.

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Revealing the design, the State Government also has called for artists to register their interest to create the first of four artworks totalling $2 million for the new Perth Stadium.

De Vietri said Spanda meant “divine vibration” in Sanskrit and was a term used to describe how consciousness moved in waves of contraction and expansion.

The sculpture gave form to this primordial energy, he said.

“The smallest ring frames the human body and the largest ring is exactly the same shape at a different scale.

“It was important for me to create that connection between the individual and what we could represent as the universal by the larger ring as a way of showing that they are as one.”

Most of the cost would be in the design, construction and installation of the artwork with the average fee to the artist being about 10 per cent.

Designed on a computer, the artwork is being made through MouldCAM, the Queensland manufacturer which helped WA artist James Angus make his Forrest Place sculpture Grow Your Own, popularly known as the Perth Cactus.

De Vietri said he expected the public also would come up with a nickname for his sculpture.

“I’ll leave that to the imagination of the public. They seem to do a great job of that.”

De Vietri, who has returned to Perth after almost a decade in New York, also created the Ascalon sculpture outside St George’s Cathedral with fellow artist Marcus Canning in 2010.

Ascalon, inspired by the lance and cloak of St George, was one of the first major sculptures to push the boundaries of what public art could mean in Perth.

”It has been interesting to see the various responses to that,” De Vietri said.

Attitudes to public art in Perth had changed significantly in the past few years, he said.

“It is really coming into its own as a city and developments like these are really helping to transform the city. It is a good time for public art in Perth.”

“It is quite common in other cities but is quite a new phenomenon in a way in Perth. I don’t have a handle on how that influences people or the general psyche of the city but I’m glad to see that other forms of sculpture are being created and thought about.”

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The Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority received 36 artist submissions for the major entry-statement commission with the theme of “an artwork that would celebrate the integration of river life and the city”.

Five were short-listed and invited to participate in a workshop to develop their concepts.

Planning, Culture and the Arts Minsiter said De Vietri was one of the State’s most renowned artists.

“I greatly admire Christian’s work and was delighted when I heard one of his sculptures would feature in the precinct,” Mr Day said.

The other Elizabeth Quay artworks include a piece on Barrack Street jetty using school signatures taken from the Bell Tower, Aboriginal artworks and a sculpture of WA feminist Bessie Rischbieth.

Mr Day said each piece would reflect some aspect of the history of the area and enrich the visitor experience.

“Art can greatly enhance public spaces, creating a talking and meeting point for the community,” Mr Day said.

Born in Kalgoorlie, Di Vietri studied art at Curtin University, the National School of Fine Art in Paris and Columbia University in New York City, where he has several public art works on show.

His art has been exhibited and collected at the Gallery of Modern Art Australia, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, the National Gallery of Art Australia, and Deitch Projects New York.

Sport and Recreation Minister Mia Davies said local artists should start thinking about what sort of pieces they could create to be featured around the Perth Stadium precinct when it opened in early 2018.

The first piece would be a land-art installation integrated into the landscape design in the north of the sports precinct alongside the Swan River-fed lake, Ms Davies said.

“The stadium isn’t just about sport,” she said. “In particular, the art strategy involves commissioning a mix of stand alone statement sculptures including functional and play elements, plus integrated artworks.”

The artist or artistic team would be appointed by the end of 2015