SOUTHERN WAY MCCLELLAND COMMISSIONS
Three monumental contemporary sculptures were installed along the Peninsula Link freeway in Melbourne’s south east in 2013, as part of a unique and award-winning commitment to public art, the Southern Way McClelland Commissions. Established in 2013 as a Public Private Partnership between Southern Way and McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery, this ongoing program of iconic artworks has established the Mornington Peninsula as an internationally significant hub for public art and contemporary sculpture. The series alternates every two years between sites at Skye Road and Cranbourne Road along Peninsula Link, which will result in 14 commissions over a 25-year period to 2037. Southern Way generously donates funding for the sculptures in giving back to the community of Frankston and Langwarrin. After four years on public display the commissions become part of McClelland’s permanent collection in its 16-hectare sculpture park. McClelland was awarded the Creative Partnerships Australia 2013 SME Award for its work with Southern Way’s Peninsula Link Freeway through this initiative.
Commissions to date include Louise Paramor’s Panorama Station, which resembles a space-station and is permanently located on Peninsula Link at the EastLink interchange. Dean Colls’ work Rex Australis: The King is dead, long live the King is located at McClelland Sculpture Park. Phil Price’s wind-activated kinetic sculpture, Tree of Life, has found its new home at McClelland. At the Cranbourne Road site, Gregor Kregar’s chrome gnome titled Reflective lullaby has been replaced by Love Flower by John Meade with Emily Karanikolopoulos. Michael Riddle’s Iconoclast, a transmission tower crushed under the weight of a boulder, is currently installed at Skye Rd.
John Meade with Emily Karanikolopoulos, Love Flower 2019
Melbourne artist John Meade’s Love Flower sculpture is based on an Ikebana flower arrangement by the Melbourne practitioner, Emily Karanikolopoulos. Following her training in the Japanese art of Sogetsu Ikebana, Emily grows agapanthus in her garden and as they bloom and flower, she ties the stem numerous times and trains it to curve slowly towards the sun. The result is an elegant and sinuously curved stem which Emily cuts, then dries, and paints white. Meade fabricated the ten metre high work in carbon fibre, and at the end of each pedicel, which is the short stem that holds each little flower in the umbrel (the flowering ball at the end of each large stem), fibre optic lights illuminate the sculpture throughout the night to magical effect.
For many decades, agapanthus have been a popular roadside flowering plant. Native to South Africa, it is a hardy plant that requires very little upkeep. It flowers in summer and can withstand the Australian climate. Despite its popularity over the years, it is now falling out of favour and it is in some areas considered a weed that displaces indigenous grasses and ground cover. It is also toxic to humans. This change in status says something about the complexity of culture and modern life. But the sculpture isn’t a monument to the agapanthus plant. The title of the sculpture, Love Flower, is based on the etymology of the plant name, agapanthus, which comes from the Ancient Greek term, agápē, meaning “god’s love of man and man’s love of god,” and, anthos, meaning, “flower”. As such Love Flower is a gift, or a gesture to the local residents and to the travellers making their way to and from the Peninsula. Like a bunch of flowers that are offered and then arranged in a domestic setting, this Ikebana arrangement takes the domestic out onto the street, introducing to the Langwarrin environment an element of human invention and domestic culture.
John Meade was born in Ballarat in 1956 and currently lives and working in Melbourne. He studied Fine Art at the Victorian College of the Arts, before completing a Masters of Arts at RMIT and a PhD in Fine Art at Monash University. He lectures at Monash University and the University of Melbourne. Meade’s practice draws relations, often humorous and unexpected, between the metaphysical and surreal in the experience of contemporary life and domestic culture. Emily Karanikolopoulos is an Australian artist who is a teacher and practitioner of the Japanese floral arrangement art of Sogetsu Ikebana. She is an active member of the Ikebana community of Australia, and she has attained the highest possible Ikebana accreditation outside Japan.
Michael Riddle, Iconoclast 2017
Riddle’s sculpture Iconoclast developed from a previous series ‘Everything is Broken’ and responds to the artist’s experience of loss. Each sculpture is intended as the physical representation of an emotional shock. Using materials from the industrial world, Riddle takes a symbol of modernity – an electrical transmission tower, and crumples it under the weight of a rock. Perceived to be unbreakable and carrying the vitality and energy of contemporary life, Riddle ultimately questions the permanence of such structures by placing them in an ambiguous state of undoing and destruction.
Michael Riddle is a contemporary sculptor based in Brisbane. Born in London in 1971, Riddle emigrated to Australia in 1998 after completing a Bachelor of Arts with honours in three-dimensional at University of Plymouth. Currently undertaking a Masters of Fine Art at Queensland University of Technology, Riddle’s work delves into the exploration of metaphysics and the unpredictability of human existence, drawing heavily on his own experience. He has held solo exhibitions and been part of group shows including ‘Collaborative Resistance’ at Black Door Gallery Brisbane, and ‘Closed Systems’ at Jan Manton Art and was the recipient of the Redlands Konica Minolta art prize in 2013.
Gregor Kregar, Reflective Lullaby 2015
Kregar’s sculptures disrupt and displace the meaning of recognisable objects, giving them a new space for interpretation. Reflective Lullaby connects the sublime with the ridiculous through the figure of a garden gnome with a highly reflective surface. Standing as a symbol of knowledge, alchemy and protection in folklore, this common garden ornament is transformed by Kregar into a humorous philosopher of everyday life by its scale as a heroic monumental sculpture.
Born in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Gregor Kregar’s work explores the intersection of mysticism and science. Kregar’s practice is ambiguous and uncanny, yet is a reflection of the social, economic and political environment which the artist inhabits. Currently residing in Auckland, Kregar studied at the Academy of Fine Arts at the University of Ljubljana until 1996, before commencing further study at the Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland. He has held artist residency’s in New Zealand, New York and China, as well as having works publically commissioned in Slovenia, Abu Dhabi and in New Zealand.
Phil Price, Tree of life 2013
Price creates a synergy between form and kinetic functionality. Tree of Life resembles a eucalypt tree and is made from fibreglass and steel with ball-bearing joints. Tree of Life embodies Price’s fascination with materials, engineering, and the beauty of the natural world, and its gentle and graceful motion is activated by wind.
New Zealand artist Phil Price specialises in kinetic sculptures. Working and living in Lyttleton, Price brings together his knowledge and understanding of engineering into his practice to create elegant and mesmerising kinetic forms. Price studied sculpture at the University of Canterbury before running large scale projects as a production manager for Neil Dawson Sculpture. He has taught art at Christs College in Canterbury, and started his own studio practice in 2000. Since then, he has created over 100 kinetic sculptures. His work is featured in public collections in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra, as well being privately owned in America, England, Holland, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand.
Dean Colls, Rex Australis: The king is dead, long live the king 2013
Colls’ work asks viewers to reconsider their perception of the world and the privilege placed on the human perspective. Rex Australia: The king is dead, long live the king explores the concept of changing fortunes and the transience of existence, born from Colls’ personal, childhood memories of travelling in rural Australia. Based on a computer design and measuring 14 x 7 x 6 metres, this merino ram’s skull was constructed by hand with the artist welding over 60,000 triangular facets of Corten steel together. Colls stresses the decline of the sheep industry, a once prosperous industry for Australia’s economy, and the detrimental rise of the mining industry. It is a memorial to passing grandeur, yet simultaneously, a symbol of hope, that life can arise out of the death of the new king of our economy. Colls finds beauty in skeletal forms that bring together symbols of death with the frameworks of life, exposing the unsustainability and inevitable decay of Australia’s rural industries.
Dean Colls was born in the rural town of Kerang in Northern Victoria. He commenced a traineeship in sculpture and puppet making with Ron Mueck before working as a freelance sculptor and costume and set designer for film and television. Since 1997, Colls has worked alongside Louise Skačej as a co-director of Aludean Sculpture – a Melbourne based studio that manufactures and designs commissioned abstract, representational and figurative artworks. His work examines Australian culture and human experience in relation to the natural sciences and computer technology. This has seen him exhibit and gain commissions nationally, including participating in the McClelland Sculpture Survey Award in 2010 and his works residing at the Canberra War Memorial.
2010 Peninsula Link Commission
Louise Paramor, Panorama Station 2010
Panorama Station is based on an assemblage of found plastic objects, which included items such as 1970’s cassette towers, lampshades, spice jars and toy parts. The origins of the fifteen separate components are largely obscure, but there is an underlining sense of nostalgic familiarity embedded within them.
Panorama Station is monumental; built from steel, its highest point reaches 16.5 meters and its base is over 11 meters long. The artwork resembles a space-station, a rocket launch-pad or a futuristic engine, conjuring up images from popular culture, as seen, for instance, in the cartoon serials The Jetsons or Futurama: a retro-futuristic feel; technology imagined on a human-scale, and more amenable to tinkering. The artwork blurs the lines between sculpture, architecture and machinery and thus infers a direct affinity with the ways of the road, while the overall skyward thrust of the piece inspires a feeling of buoyancy and optimism.
Many of the objects have a natural relationship to vehicular forms. For instance, the yellow box (originally, a meal storage tower) might conjure up the body of a truck or a container, the orange ensemble (originally, lampshade parts), suggests the funnels and spouts associated with fuel and lubrication, while the cassette towers are reminiscent of engine cylinders.
The artwork’s colourful high-gloss coating bears a strong relation to the duco on motor vehicles, echoing the flashes of colour that dart along the road. The presence of Panorama Station in this setting will act as a talisman linking all travellers, perhaps reminding them they are humans inside machines and that there are other humans inside machines very close by, offering a feeling of comfort and reassurance.
Panorama Station was commissioned as a permanent sculpture to inaugurate the Peninsula Link freeway. While the commission was managed by McClelland, this sculpture is owned by Southern Way.