Client: Woolworths Group
Location: Perth, Australia
Artwork budget: $200,000
Redfort Architectural Fabrics
Hames Sharley Architects
ADCO Constructions Pty Ltd
Elite Stainless Steel Fabrication Pty Ltd
Universal Coatings Pty Ltd
Interpon Powder Coatings Australia
A collaborative commission between the artist, Paula Hart and Dutch based Redfort Architectural Fabrics, with their product Lacefence. Lacefence is a high-end metal fabric that reinterprets the cyclone fence, known for its ugliness and negative connotation, introducing designs of handmade bobbin lace wire within machine made industrial fencing. The close up investigations of the bell shaped jacaranda blossoms, the vein-like texture of the flowers and the inner stamens have been translated into various stitch types. The 240m2 artwork has been made with SS316 steel wire, powder coated with Interpon D2015 Ultriva and installed as panels to a modularised framing system.
The Jacaranda trees are such a key part of the Mount Pleasant identity and the northern end of Reynolds Road is incredibly beautiful during this time of year. A purple haze descends, the light seems to change, and the blossoming has a transformative effect over the neighbourhood. The developers acknowledged the importance of this throughout the development and in the artists’ brief. For the artist, the work needed to build connection, relevance and recognition to this local vibrant community and surrounding buildings, while creating a strong contemporary visual art piece that has sophistication and significance as an Australian work of art. The Woolworths aim was to deliver a “state-of-the-art centre”. The idea to use the craft of lacemaking in an industrial product is new to Australia so Woolworths was given an opportunity for an Australia wide design first. The Lacefence façade is the major focal point for the building on a busy intersection, the artwork immediately lauded by the local and wider community.
The impact of Jacarandas is in their masses. Big masses of floppy, clumps of purple. Through sketching and photographing the blossoms the individual character started to reveal – the way the knobbly sticks and branches curl upwards, the bell shaped flowers lacking any sort of symmetry, the stripey undulations and barely perceptible pistols.
I have created previous projects with Redfort via digital interface, but for this project I chose to travel to Amsterdam to work shoulder to shoulder with Joep Verhoeven and the design team to start our bespoke design. Each square meter is unique. No repetition. No limitation. We created custom patterns, applied different stitch types to each flower and created elegant and unique design solutions for this site.
Work then moved to the production unit in Bangalore, India where 60 craftsmen worked for ten weeks on production.
Balancing between artwork and architectural fabric meant we address the requirements of building codes and practices. The work was rigorously tested by the builder and engineers to ensure everything met Australian requirements.
The panels were then imported to Australia, powder coated locally and installed on a modularised framing system.
Stakeholders are thrilled the final result is exactly as proposed.
Redfort have taken every necessary step to ensure that all factory employees are well trained and provided with schooling, social security and pension funds. Where, when, how and by whom the products are made is integral to the sustainability and socially responsible production of Redfort’s practice. The arts coordinator and installer for this project were both delighted to have to opportunity to visit the factory during the process of developing this public art commission and described it as setting foot into a little piece of Dutch wonder. Among the fascinating feedback on the project has been the huge interest by lace makers across the world. From Uruguay to Belgium, Johannesburg to New York, there are lace makers in awe of this architectural fabric, my beautiful jacaranda design and the traditional stitches, all fascinated to recognise traditional bobbin lace stitches translated as an architectural façade. No it’s not lace-ish… It’s lace!