Housing developments home for new sculpture

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While community art projects continue to enliven public housing in Victoria, more developers are turning to public sculpture for new Western Australian housing estates.

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New housing estate Harrisdale Green in Perth’s southern suburbs will benefit from three sculptures unveiled this week by Western Australian artist Peter Knight. Made from a combination of steel, aluminium and jarrah, the sculptures, collectively entitled Pentaflora, pay homage to the surrounding natural environment and the cultural heritage of land and lot owners.


Harrisdale Green
, a joint venture announced in April 2008 between Western Australia’s Department of Housing and developers Cedar Woods Properties Limited, is a beneficiary of the Federal Government’s Housing Affordability Fund. Through Artsource, the developers have looked to public art to create a sense of belonging for new residents of the housing community. Uniquely for this project, Artsource invited Expressions of Interest from emerging artists looking to gain experience in managing public art projects.


Knight engaged in considerable community consultation and research with locals and potential residents to develop a design that resonated with estate dwellers.


‘I used ideas and symbols relating to religious structures that were familiar and meaningful to the residents of Harrisdale Green,’ Knight explained. ‘Many of the future residents of Harrisdale Green will have originated from Asia; predominately India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. From this, I decided to generate a concept merging spiritual origins and architecture.’


Artsource says it is increasingly facilitating various projects where developers seek the innovation of public art to help lift the aesthetic and overall experience of housing communities.


‘We are being approached more and more by property developers who are interested in the opportunities of public art to enliven building projects. By installing contemporary public art in these areas, the day-to-day living of property dwellers is enriched and a sense of community is promoted,’ Artsource art consultant Helen Mathie said.


Public art also continues to enliven existing housing developments, such as Melbourne artist Rosa Tato's Embracing Distance, a new community-inspired sculpture at the base of North Melbourne’s Alfred Street Public Housing tower. Rosa worked with residents and students of North Melbourne Language and Learning (NMLL) to explore ideas of migration and settlement. Her 30 metre long steel panelled artwork incorporates patterns and motifs that represent the cultural diversity and personal histories of people from 16 countries.


Manager of NMLL, Joane Goodman, said ‘The whole community can enjoy the rich aesthetic that now graces the entrance to NMLL. Our launch celebrates bringing this phase of the project to fruition and reflects much work and many community stories.’


Rosa Tato’s sculpture, Embracing Distance, will be launched from 5 – 7pm on 15 November 2012, at North Melbourne Language and Learning centre, Ground Floor, 33 Alfred St, North Melbourne.

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