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All Eyes On Us

Kate Veling | April 2018

A new public art commission in the centre of the city is guaranteed to get your attention.

The Commonwealth Games will create positive and lasting change for the Gold Coast on many levels. While some of these changes won’t be immediately obvious, one that most definitely will be is the vibrant, large scale public artwork positioned front and centre on Surfers Paradise Esplanade.

The sculpture was commissioned by the City of Gold Coast and the Queensland Government to commemorate the Games and represents a bold step in the city’s evolution into a world class, boutique destination. Public art is a potent way for a city to establish a unique identity reflecting local history, people, places and events. This piece will act as a lasting memento for one of the most significant events in the region’s history.

Public art is also one of the most accessible forms of art, which is something artist Stuart Green particularly appreciates about his vocation. With over 23 years’ experience creating public art, Green has built up an impressive portfolio of artworks in a range of scales and themes. His work can be seen in Perth, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Abu Dhabi and now, the Gold Coast.

“Public art offers a much larger canvas,” he reflects. “You can deal with spaces and interact with people on a much larger scale than being in a studio and creating paintings for an exhibition. As an artist it’s fantastic to make that kind of impact.”

The sculpture, titled “All Eyes on Us – The Commonwealth Star”, embraces the idea of celebration. The vibrancy, optimism and sense of excitement that the Games will bring to the Gold Coast. For Green it captures the sense of beginning – an explosive, spontaneous quality. “The title is slightly tongue in cheek,” he explains. “It plays on the brash, confident and youthful culture of the Gold Coast but it also commemorates a moment in time when the Commonwealth, and the rest of the world does focus its gaze on us.”

The other source of inspiration for the work was the Gold Coast and South East Queensland “If you think of a tropical fruit or flower there is a vitality,” says Green. “It’s fruity, juicy, vital.” The repeated abstract shapes used in the sculpture also resemble the red surf boards that many surf schools use, giving it a strong connection to place. But as Green points out, being abstract, the sculpture is open to interpretation. “Art should never be about one thing. When people ask, ‘Well, what is it?’ I always tell them they’re asking the wrong question!”

Of course, this artwork will remain within the city, long after the 11 days of competition have ended and is destined to become embedded in our cultural identity, a cultural legacy which will likely feature in the back ground of many selfies and holiday happy snaps.

While the sculpture is a fixed, static shape with clean, bold surfaces and simple, repeated forms, the surrounding environment and the way people passing by will experience it gives it a dynamic quality. As viewers approach, on foot or driving past, the shape unfurls. From some angles it appears quite symmetrical and from others perspectives it’s anything but. You can walk between, through and underneath and interact with the physicality of the structure, plus it will be viewed from above by surrounding high rise apartments and hotels. The shadow of the sculpture shape-shifts as the sun moves through the sky and the sky itself provides an ever changing back drop and contrast to the eye catching colour of the artwork.

Standing at 9 metres high the sculpture is an impressive culmination of the artistic and logistics. Green worked with many collaborators to bring this piece to completion. There were three different engineers required to consult on the sculpture as well as fabricators, and designer Ben Price worked closely with him to refine the concept.

“Public art is not just the production of the fine art – it’s understanding the space, understanding how people will encounter it and move about it and deal with as well as all the basic nuts and bolts like whether it’s a trip hazard or whether it will stand up to strong winds,” says Green.

The structure is made from glass reinforced plastic – a lightweight but sturdy material that will withstand sun, salt and the occasional cyclone. It’s been built to last and will be a major point of focus long after the Commonwealth Games are over.

All Eyes on Us is a legacy to an exciting chapter in Gold Coast history and an investment in our continuing evolution into a city where arts and culture are an integral part of the landscape and community.

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