Client: Shire of Carnarvon
Location: Carnarvon, Australia
Completion date: 2018
Artwork budget: $45,000
Anton Felix Blume
Sabrina Dowling Giudici
This contemporary waterfront sculpture tells a heritage story of fishing and whaling in the most western part of the Australian continent. Two globally significant marine heritage sites are located in the UNESCO listed, Shark Bay and Ningaloo areas. This seven metre (23 feet) high giant fishing-rod has the catch of the day – an illuminated fish of stacked translucent layers beautifully forming the organic shape. It utilises mild and stainless steels, a selection of synthetics, and internal lighting. Sunlit by day, at dusk a remote sensor activates an internal spine of LEDs to produce a low-level glow during the night. The location in Carnarvon, Western Australia, is ranked amongst the world’s most intense sunlight; choosing a fabric that honoured this characteristic lead to using an off-beat translucent material, for kitchen benches! – to allow the centrepiece of the artwork to interact with both the vibrant daylight and the night-time lighting solution. As a waterfront streetlight, the multi-layered design and lighting choice also achieved a sensitivity to dark-sky values and minimising the nocturnal disruption of marine life in this eco sensitive habitat. The engineering of the sculpture was crucial as the location is in the most dangerous Australian cyclone hurricane zone.
The client intended to create the first sculptural trial in the municipality. Prior consultation resulted in the articulation of seven themes defining local identity, over five locations: First Nation expression, Pastoral rangelands; horticulture; the historic space race stories of the Satellite Earth Station and the NASA Tracking Station; and finally, the challenge of combining the disparate maritime stories of the historic whaling and the contemporary fishing industries. This is the basis of the artwork - it was a challenging design brief. The client stated, “it intended for the use of art, culture and the artist’s talent, to present a creation that promoted growth, transformation and the activation of newly created public space”, on the newly reconstructed waterfront known as the Fascine. The goal was, through the artwork, to enhance and complement the surrounding spaces, built and natural, so as to increase use of that space. The project called for sympathetic yet iconic interpretative artwork embedded within the site, with a strong design ethos and relation to the colour palette of the land and seascape. The resulting streetlighting artwork was practical and eye-catching, and already a meeting point and preferred picnic place, simply referred to as ‘the fish’.
The central team were artists Anton Blume and Sabrina Dowling Giudici, with client supervisor, Deborah Wilkes. The artist’s tasks were tightly defined and grouped according to the expertise of each member. Anton is the artwork author and Sabrina was responsible for the materials and interpretating Anton’s design into an engineering compliant design while retaining the aesthetics. They worked in three spaces, an individual one each and a shared space where they reviewed iterations of the design with each other and with Deborah. The structural engineer Tony Klijns reviewed the drawings to refine the design to meet the engineering requirements of the cyclone hurricane region including strengthening the centre of the fish and thickening the pole size and fabric to withstand storm wind-loads. During the fabrication process a fourth space 1,000km away in the city, was used to coordinate the fabrication team of metalworker Bernie Garbellini, lighting engineer Ben Ponting and the fish CNC and assembly team lead by Chris McCourt. Sabrina liaised with all parties as the artwork progressed to supervise safety practices. The artwork was crated and transported for installation by builder Paul Porter and Electrician Ray Milner with the artists also collaborating in the installation process.
“This is my favourite public art piece in regional Australia. It traverses the space between the everyday and magic. Its accessibility is in its playfulness combined with its functionality. It’s a light. It’s a light laugh, it’s a little gasp, it’s a very needed departure from the mundane in a public place. It makes the space safer by bringing enchantment and illumination into the world. It’s easily understood. It’s a giant fish on the end of a fishing pole. Its unpretentious, inclusive. It’s not wrapped in discourse or rhetoric. Everyone gets it…. and it really does bring enchantment into a place that needs it, to people who deserve magic.” Theaker von Ziarno. This artwork is in remote Australia with limited public-art resources and expertise, requiring the artists to reach out far for the required resources and fabrication capacity. The geographically dispersed team worked well together with careful liaison between all players. The keys were patience and trust between each team member, a dogged commitment to design excellence and technical proficiency. There was a uniting sense of pride in creating an artwork that embodies an activity that is personally meaningful – we all love to fish and spend time on the coast, as do our families and friends. This artwork is about us.