As our largest public art project to date, it could be argued that it’s impossible for Gold Coasters not to be engaged by the Gateways Public Art Commission.
Designed by world-renowned architectural firm LOT-TEK, the large scale HI-LIGHTS installations bookend the city. Created from 100 modified streetlights that spell out the city’s name at the northern site in Stapylton and the initials ‘GC’ at the southern site in Tugun. Standing 11m tall, the striking structures are illuminated at night and difficult to miss.
These head turning art works are estimated to be seen by over 155,000 commuters on the M1 and Gold Coast Highway each day as they drive past, but the Pop Up Parks events scheduled for the last two weekends in February will encourage the Gold Coast community to engage with the works on a deeper level.
Through a program created in partnership with some of the best local artists, design agencies and culture makers, interactive workshops will provoke conversations about the art works and spark people’s imaginations about our identity and future as a city. Children will be included in the events and many of the activities have been designed to capture their interest through creativity, craft and play.
City of Gold Coast have partnered with Burleigh design firm, Relative Creative, and Bleached Arts to connect the local public with the new artworks through an interactive program featuring three prominent Gold Coast artists – Rebecca Ross, Libby Harward and Michelle Xen. Relative Creative co-directors Tristan Schultz and Bec Barnett are excited by the opportunities the family-friendly events present for all residents to participate.
“First and foremost the Pop-Up Parks are a way for us all, as Gold Coast residents, to come together and celebrate the arrival of this wonderful artwork and the stories and histories that make up our Gold Coast,” explains Schultz. “All of the activities have been designed to support this and to encourage participants to connect with the artwork in different ways. Relative Creative will be drawing connections between the light-poles and letters of the artwork, we’ll be using techniques that we use within our own design practice to help people talk about and explore their stories and mapping these out as we go.”
“We want participants to bring their stories about their experiences on the Gold Coast but most of all we want them to come along and have fun celebrating the city and our newest pieces of public art. We want them to walk away with a better understanding of the artwork.”
The Gateways artworks and Pop Up Park events deliver on the City’s Public Art Plan 2021 in development of local artists and support the vision of a city transformed by public art, with works threaded into buildings, between precincts and within our urban spaces.
Rebecca Ross is one of the local artists involved in the program and shares her thoughts on how the HI-LIGHTS works relate to the Gold Coast’s cultural identity. “The artworks are significant landmarks in stature and construction,” she says.
“I think they enhance the city’s cultural identity by their very nature, by being literally embedded in the landscape. I think the work functions simultaneously as artwork and as a bold statement that not only says ‘You are here’ but also ‘Here you are!’ You’ve arrived on the GC/GOLD COAST.”
Ross will be inviting people to create collages at the events, using a mix of pre-printed post cards and art supplies, responding to questions about what they consider to be their own individual gateways on the Gold Coast.
“Everyone lives in different zones along the coast and out west, and their gateways vary,” she explains. “We really want to hear those stories and get them to document their ideas, and share them with others. I’m inspired by the opportunity to work directly with the community and to have a direct gateway into having conversations about art, place and cultural identity on the coast.”
Another artist involved in the Pop-Up Parks is Michelle Xen from Lumen.Cloud – an interdisciplinary collective who were also the recipients of the Gateways Public Art Commission mentorship. She and co-director, Richard Candy, will be working with digitally interactive lighting as a way to explore and engage with one of the key materials of the HI-LIGHTS installations – light. They’ll ask the community to consider how light is being used in the artworks and how it can be an art material.
Michelle hopes it will help people understand and better relate to contemporary public art. “It’s a chance to welcome people into what artists right now in 2018 are actually doing with materials and how they are responding to the world around them,” she says. “Any time a lot of money is spent on an artwork it draws a lot of attention. That’s a really great thing because it stimulates conversation and an understanding of place and of works that are not traditionally thought of as art. Artists work in all kinds of ways – not just paint and pencils and canvas, so it’s inspiring to see LOT-TEK take their practice of repurposing industrial materials and use street lights in a creative way.”
These iconic artworks will be part of a cultural legacy that continues long after the 2018 Commonwealth Games and co-curator of the workshops and Artistic Director of Bleach* Festival, Louise Bezzina, says the program was created as a way for locals to explore where we live and how we want to shape the future of our city.
“With HI-LIGHTS set to become a postcard image of the Gold Coast, now’s the perfect time to contemplate what it means to mark our city’s boundaries in this way, and to encourage community conversations about what we want the Gold Cost to be,” says Bezzina. “We want to support projects that are unique to the Gold Coast – its stories, its people and its places. Events like this bring the community together, foster community pride and help galvanise us together.”
The Pop-Up Parks sessions are suitable for all ages and are on offer in the following locations.
February 17th and 18th from 10am – 2pm
February 24th & 25th from 10am – 2pm
See Gateways Public Art for more.