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Appreciating Artists

Collaborating with artists has always been one of our richest sources of inspiration. Each collaboration and the conversations underpinning them has enriched our design process and encouraged us to reconsider a building’s relationship to the public realm.

In recent years, we’ve worked with a vibrant array of artists including Fiona Hall, Rose Nolan, Judy Watson, Rosslynd Piggott, Dani Marti, Peter Hennessey, Natasha Johns-Messenger and Simon Perry.

One of our most influential collaborations was with Peter Kennedy, who we commissioned in 2001 to create a 36-metre-long artwork to run the length of our office window. The neon artwork is titled “A n d S o...Illumination 1.” As both client and architect, we discovered the powerful connections artists can forge between their work and the city and the unique ways artists engage with architecture. This shaped future collaborations and led us to focus on integrating artworks into the fabric of a building in a way that makes a clear demarcation between art and architecture, but also makes both feel part of the whole urban ensemble.

Rosslynd Piggott, an internationally renowned Melbourne-based contemporary artist, was commissioned for a major public installation piece in the foyer of our 50 Lonsdale Street commercial office tower project, The Urban Workshop. Prior to construction, an archaeological dig on the project site uncovered artefacts from the rich and colourful history of Melbourne. Piggott wove these objects of culinary practice and other aspects of life into compelling stories of settlement; they are now displayed in the building’s foyer.

Contemporary artist Dani Marti collaborated with us on a large-scale work that forms a backdrop to the foyer at the Dock 5 apartment tower. This work is the result of an original piece constructed by hand of woven high grade marine rope, a subsequent casting process that led to a rubber mould from which a series of glass reinforced concrete replica panels of extraordinary detail were created. We also worked with Dani at our Westfield Sydney City project to create an installation at the entry located at 100 Market Street.

Simon Perry was also commissioned by Westfield to work with us to create a series of bronze entry gates to the new retail laneway. The “Eyelash” is both an integrated sculpture within the space, and a working gate preventing access to the shopping centre when closed.

Celebrated artist Peter Hennessey has contributed to two major Wardle projects. ‘Sky Voyager’ sits in Westfield Sydney City as a strong visual statement creating intrigue and interest to connect the commercial and retail spaces, expressing humankind’s ingenuity and ambition. ‘Spiral Uplift’ adorns the entry space within Spire Apartments in Brisbane. The 12-metre stylised floral vine is a complex, detailed work which may be interpreted as a dance between nature and modern technology.

Designing Bendigo Law Courts has opened our eyes to a very different type of collaboration. Working closely with the local Dja Dja Wurrung community and Dja Dja Wurrung artist Racquel Kerr, this in-depth consultation shaped the design of the building and influenced our thinking on landscape and urban design. A beautiful and evocative line-drawing of Bunjil, the ancestral creation being, by Kerr has been incorporated into the facade of the building. Depicted in flight, Bunjil’s wings illustrate major meeting places and mountains on Dja Dja Wurrung Country, embedding the stories and histories of the land and people into the design. The collaboration encouraged us to develop our Reconciliation Action Plan. 

On Top of the World is a program that was devised by John Wardle and Spacecraft’s Stewart Russell in 2013. It’s a series of roof terrace events where people from across the visual arts are invited to speak.
Each guest speaker designs a flag with Stewart which is then raised with much fanfare at the start of the event. The evenings are a way of bringing together clients, collaborators and friends of the practice to learn from each other’s discipline and take a moment to appreciate perspectives in art through the medium of a single flag.

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