undesign

undesign

Lately I’ve been thinking about Undesign. I know that’s a strange word and perhaps someone has a better one.

One way or another, I’ve spent most of my working life in design. There are a handful of early years that don’t qualify; a couple in the military and a few working as a rural contractor building fences. But mostly it’s been about design. I built a multi-disciplinary design group that reached the top of its game in Australia, took it into Asia and then partnered it with one of the world’s largest experience design companies.

The Authority of the street

The Authority of the street

The Australia I inhabit has become a place where order and conformity are admired while deviation from the norm is generally unwelcome.

Quite how we became so cautious, particularly given the devil-may-care image we like to both hold of ourselves and promote is beyond the scope of this piece. What is within its domain and what may not be my most popular viewpoint is: “we need some disruptive thinking in our cultural and political mix”. I’m not talking revolution here; I am talking about a loosening of restrictions and constraints that shifts power from authorities to the street.

A beacon for residential development in Sydney

A beacon for residential development in Sydney

As a pretty regular traveler over Sydney’s Anzac Bridge I’ve watched the Edwin Davey Flour Mill site with interest over many years. Although abandoned since the late 90’s it’s remained an eye-catching building; a handsome Georgian facade with the perfect intervention of a corrugated iron shed penetrating and rising above the brickwork in its top right hand corner. I often wondered what was to become of this piece of Sydney with its century long history of flour milling, particularly given its difficult location between a freeway ramp and the Fish Market. And in recent times, that question has been partially answered as, whizzing by, I’ve seen its conversion into apartments.

What future for public realm?

What future for public realm?

It is universally understood that the quality of public realm determines the liveability of cities and towns. Accessible to all, public realm is the connective tissue of urban design, linking the individual elements of our built environment. Public realm comprises the everyday spaces where we often work, think, play, meet and socialise.

Stone Object in Landscape (sculpture by the sea)

Stone Object in Landscape (sculpture by the sea)

Sydney sandstone and exhibition catalogue Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 2015

This conceptual work, exhibited at Sydney’s Sculpture by the Sea, 2015, is a mediation on the relationship between sculptural objects, landscape, the viewer and the nature of art.

ABC STATELINE PROGRAM - Sculpture by the Sea 2010

ABC STATELINE PROGRAM - Sculpture by the Sea 2010

Quentin Dempster, host of Stateline in New South Wales, has agreed to take us on a last minute tour of Sculpture by the Sea, it closes on Sunday.

Now its 12th year, more than half a million people are expected to have done the Tamarama-Bondi walk to breathe the fresh air, look at the ocean and admire the 107 sculptures.

 

Of Memory (Sculpture by the Sea 2010)

Of Memory (Sculpture by the Sea 2010)

Exhibited in Sculpture by the Sea Sydney in 2009 and chosen as a finalist in the UWS Art Priize and Exhibition in 2010. Of memory is trying to connect two points in the landscape. The work is straining against its material limitations, reaching out from one fixed point in an unsupported, cantilevered span. It responds to an idea of landscape and our individual capacities for risk and commitment.

she thought, featured on the Sculpture by the Sea 2009 Catalogue

It’s been said that a poem is emotion distilled. 

she thought started with a poem I wrote to Aram, imagining how she might respond to the landscape of the coastal walk at Bondi. I had spent a great deal of time in the location clarifying my own thoughts about it and developing initial studies for the work, but it was when I viewed the landscape from an imagining of my wife’s perspective that these studies began to resolve.

Integral to my creative process was the role of this particular landscape. The work grew straight from the place and it says some of the things I feel about this, and other landscapes. I like the idea that nature cannot be contained, and I've tried to express that. she thought also represents a transition – a time in which the more cerebral nature of my past life in design connects with a deeper level of feelings that inform my art practice.

In this movement between worlds, she thought is helping me to delineate how I’d like to work.  The sculpture is a vessel, not only referencing all the craft of sea, sky and land that pass that way, but also a symbolic vessel in which I can travel, helping me to define my ideas and method for the future while navigating toward it. The conceptual vessel is important to me. My own view of the world has been dramatically influenced by the vessels with which I have navigated it, and I suspect that experience is a common one.

she thought brings the accumulation of those experiences into one place and centres them within an iconic Sydney landscape.

she-thought-05.jpg

ART AND ABOUT FOR A WONDROUS EVENT

ART AND ABOUT FOR A WONDROUS EVENT

The rough-hewn artworks of Stephen King, a rugged sheep and cattle farmer from the NSW town of Walcha, have been exhibited in Sculpture by the Sea no fewer than 11 times. That includes this year's event, which features naturally fallen stringybark trees from King's property, Blackfellows Gully, transformed by the artist into a sculpture with the none-too-subtle aid of a chainsaw.

She Thought (sculpture by the sea)

She Thought (sculpture by the sea)

Exhibited in Sculpture by the Sea 2008 on the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk, in Mark’s park, between October 16th and November 2nd. When I’m in that place, I tend not to see the urban aspects of the landscape. My attention is drawn the other way, toward the scale and drama of the natural coastal environment and the interventions that occur; container ships on the horizon, little fishing boats in that huge sea, whales breaking the surface, aeroplane contrails against a too blue sky.