Gold Coast cultural precinct HOTA, Home of the Arts has recently announced two major outdoor artworks ahead of the opening of the new HOTA Gallery – Australia’s largest public gallery outside a capital city.
Commissioned by HOTA, the acclaimed artists, Queensland Waanyi artist Judy Watson and Sri-Lankan born, Sydney based artist Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran will create bold new outdoor artworks responding to the site and welcoming visitors to the gallery. These new sculptural installations will be installed ahead of the opening of the new $60.5 million HOTA Gallery on 8 May 2021.
Responding to the history of the site and local Indigenous people, Brisbane based artist Judy Watson will present a multi-part installation which will serve as a place of gathering, education, knowledge, and ceremony for all visitors.
Surrounded by Indigenous native plantings, this layered, sculptural garden work includes a pathway forming a topographical map depicting the Nerang prior to European settlement. Piccabeen basket and dilly bag sculptures designed in collaboration with Quandamooka artists Libby Harward and Elisa Jane Carmichael will loop through the space and a two-metre tall feather canopy will provide a place for shelter. Local language and motifs will be sandblasted onto the bleachers that encompass the site, expressing cultural knowledges, histories and stories.
Watson is known for examining Indigenous Australian histories through public artworks and this mediative installation is a space for visitors to learn about the Indigenous culture that lies within the ground and air.
“The past lives within us,” says Judy.
“Ancestor’s dilly bags and baskets held within Australian and International collections are intertwined by the memory strands connecting contemporary Aboriginal artists work, in this case, Libby Harward and Elisa Jane Carmichael.
“The sculptural elements point to Aboriginal continuity and survival. The eagle feathers shelter and protect, the shells and stones embedded within the river form take us on a journey. We listen to those who came before and follow them to our future.”
For his first ambitious work in the public domain, contemporary artist Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran has created a monumental six-metre high, double-sided sculpture to be located at the lower ground entrance to the gallery.
Predominantly composed of bronze, Ramesh has combined a range of materials including concrete, neon and fibreglass to create a multi-coloured avatar reflecting the vibrancy of the HOTA Gallery building. Holding a neon sketched figure companion and standing on a geometric plinth, this is Nithiyendran’s largest sculpture to date and will welcome visitors inside the gallery with outstretched arms and expressive and commanding tones.
In the context of the building and that space, I think you need something that’s quite bold and eye catching first of all to anchor to that location.
“I was looking at lots of big sculpture in public space and I wanted to present a work that had a bit of humour but also kind of engaged critically with some of the other kinds of large bronze sculptures seen in public spaces.”
Ramesh also drew influences from the Gold Coast’s own aesthetic.
“I’d never actually been to the Gold Coast prior to the site visit so I thought the best thing to do would be to get a sense of the urban vernacular of Surfers Paradise where I was staying,” he explains.
“I think what struck me about that area was I noted lots of fibreglass animals around; koalas and cows. The other thing I noticed was the kind of retail signage which was often electricity-based so it was neon or LED and often polychromatic, at a level I hadn’t really seen in another city, so I wanted to think about those materials and use them creatively in my work.”
HOTA also announced today how art lovers and members of the public can get their hands on tickets for the HOTA Gallery opening weekend, simply by signing up via their website to receive a special booking link, which also puts them in with the chance of winning a weekend away. To be one of the first to explore this extraordinary building, sign up at hota.com.au/firstinline and they’ll let you know how you can get your hands on opening weekend tickets.
The HOTA Gallery opens official on 8 May 2021. Visit hota.com.au for more.