Client: Karratha Health Campus
Location: Karratha, Australia
Completion date: 2018
Artwork budget: $79,000
Ian Thompson Dowling
Public Art Agent
Public Art Agent
Ellie Van Rhyn
On the main entry wall to the hospital, a strongly textured surface of thousands of porcelain pieces gives a lively rhythmic image to those visiting. At 10 metres (34 ft) wide and 4 metres (13 ft) high the artwork has a whole-of-body impact on viewers. It provides stimulation and intrigue, changing perceived colour and depth from different viewpoints.
The main goal was to interpret the unique landscape and environmental characters of this dramatic location in an abstract form with which most local viewers could identify. Spaces between each piece exposing the charcoal background lift the ceramics forward and integrate the artwork with the architecture. To assist this, textures vary rhythmically, casting shadows that change during the day and under lights at night. The non-reflective glazes use stains of copper and iron applied directionally referencing the rich greens and dark reds of the sub-tropical landscape.
The design process was extensive, starting with local research, the artist reconnecting with his family history and living in the area. Background sheets of texture were cut in polystyrene and a master plan of 500 interlocking pieces were designed to tesselate with varying degrees of depth and texture. The artist cast production moulds from each of these models and porcelain casting began with potter Matt Griffiths. Dried cast pieces were arranged and sprayed with glaze, fired and sorted for transport.
The installation began with a road trip in a truck with Ian's partner Beth Dowling and their son Troy Dowling on the journey to Karratha in the North West, 1200miles over 3 days from the studio at Margaret River in Australia's South West. Each strong piece was secured with adhesive with a stainless steel screw in support.