Kitchenware: unlikely muse for public art

Propel weighs in at 880 kg and is 3. 2 metres in diameter.

Donna Marcus of the Queensland College of Art, the creative behind some of the State’s most recognised public artworks, has taken her love of aluminium kitchenware to new heights, creating a 3.2m public art piece for the Gladstone Regional Council.

Propel brings together aluminium, the kitchen and the aeronautical, in a throwback to Lord Beaverbrook’s WW2 ‘Saucepans to Spitfire’ campaign, taking its geometry from a ‘Bucky Ball’ named after Buckminster-Fuller who first pioneered the sphere.

The piece will be unveiled in Brisbane this week before it leaves for its new home at the Gladstone Airport.

Donna explains that Fuller is “one of the greatest theorists and advocates of the necessity of interconnecting global and domestic forms, concerns and practices in everyday life”.

“His famous slogan, ‘doing the most with the least’ has always resonated with me and has translated to my practice of bringing memories of past uses for common items to a new context,” she says.

It is this view that led the self-described “sheet-metalworker’s daughter” to use the well-remembered classic star pattern of the humble kitchen colander.

Donna during a residency in the Greene Street Studio; Photo by Sardi Klein.
Donna during a residency in the Greene Street Studio; Photo by Sardi Klein.

The pattern she says, also allows for internal lighting to radiate through the perforations, while the shapes make reference to the age-old use of the stars as nautical navigational aids.

To fabricate the intricate large-scale piece, Donna enlisted the services of Mike Mooney of Stainless Aesthetics, who she collaborated with for her Steam project in Brisbane Square in 2006 and the award-winning True North, a Lend Lease project in Mackay in 2012.

“This project has afforded me another opportunity to work with an extraordinary fabricator and craftsman,” she says.

A new landmark for the town

Curator Jo Duke, of Gladstone Regional Art Gallery and Museum, played a significant role in securing Propel for the area, along with then outgoing Gallery Director Pamela Whitlock, and says it was a goal to enhance the local artistic community while also preserving the town’s character.

“In an industrial town whose livelihood is underpinned by aluminium, Propel resonates on so many levels,” she says.

“The Gladstone Regional Art Gallery and Museum has had a long and valuable relationship with Dr Donna Marcus, including the purchase of one of her early aluminium installation works, Flat Dome, 2000, which is permanently installed in the Gallery and Museum’s atrium space.

“Now to have this wonderful sculpture greet all as they travel to and from Gladstone is such a joy and I have no doubt this work will become one of our most favourite landmarks.”

The piece at the Stainless Aesthetics Warehouse during fabrication
The piece at the Stainless Aesthetics Warehouse during fabrication

Donna’s previous work has also been included in several national sculpture exhibitions including The McClelland Contemporary Sculpture Survey and Award; The Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Prize; and The National Sculpture Prize and Exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia.

She has held several exhibitions in both public and private galleries in Australia and overseas, and her work is held in many public and private collections both here and abroad. In the public art space, Donna has collaborated most notably with Denton Corker Marshall on the project Steam installed in Brisbane Square in 2006.

Propel is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland’s art+place former public art program, Gladstone Regional Council, Queensland Alumina Limited and Griffith University.

 

Media Contact: Lauren Marino, 0418 799 544, l.mari[email protected]