About a year and a half ago, we began talking about bringing public art to the new Green Square town centre. The 278-hectare Green Square development will include a new subterranean library and creative hub, aquatic and childcare centre and more than 15 new parks and open spaces. It will also host a specially-commissioned public art program.
Its creative centerpiece, an architecturally-designed library and plaza, will be adorned with two works by Australian artists chosen from more than 90 local and international submissions. We asked artists to reflect on the diverse range of influences on the area – from past uses and cultural and natural histories, to landforms and climate. The winning proposals were selected for their excellence and innovation, the response to the brief and the site’s context, the durability and longevity of the materials and the artwork’s message.
Cloud Nation by Australian artists Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro is a repurposed vintage ‘Beechcraft Travel Air’ plane that will be suspended inside the library. The surface of the plane will be transformed into a meticulously crafted miniature world. Small-scale dioramic elements will reference themes of migration and fantasy, recalling the fictional Island of Laputa from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels – Laputa is a flying island inhabited by people with a love of learning and culture. You’ll be able to view the artwork from different vantage points, including through binoculars from outside the library itself.
“As well as promoting the library space as a place of imagination and knowledge, the idea behind a floating island that is an airplane also draws inspiration from the wave of immigrants that came to Australia in the latter half of the twentieth century,” say artists Claire and Sean. “This cultural exchange was and still is made possible by the use of air travel. Cloud Nation takes that idea of the inner homeland that people carry inside themselves and turns it into a fantastic vision.”
High Water, by Sydney-based artists Michael Thomas Hill and Indigo Hanlee from Lightwell, will be installed in the public plaza outside the library. Its high resolution LED screens will graphically display local weather patterns and tidal information using live data feeds. The animated sequence of vivid water colours will be generated through digital coding.
Watery blues at the tower base will rise and fall with the tidal patterns of the hour. The skies above will shift in pattern and colour depending on the sun’s position, temperature and wind direction.
An interface will allow visitors to understand the data, colours and patterns in real time and see visual summaries of local environmental conditions over the day, week and year.
Lightwell see the story of weather patterns and tides as an effective way of highlighting what is happening in our broader environmental landscape. They say: “Turning what is accessible but often intangible data into moving water colours, this artwork becomes its own visual language for our changing environment.”
You can see the two artworks when the new library and plaza open in early 2018.