WINDWATCHER

There’s something exciting going on in Chippendale and it’s all about art. Belinda Aucott has the story

11 Oct 2011
 
Most people will tell you that you can’t watch the wind, but that fact didn’t deter acclaimed Australian artist Mikala Dwyer from creating a giant billowing artwork designed to make people stop and contemplate the force of the wind.
 
“Sitting up at 52metres in the air, I hope that it will get people to tilt their head up just for a moment and make people think about the wind,” Dywer says. Her latest work was created for the Artists in Residence program funded by Fraser Property Group Australia who are developing the Carlton United Brewery site in inner-western Sydney. “I love the wind. It’s invisible and powerful. It wears down mountains. I think its invisible and just a really magical thing,” Dwyer explains.
 
Part of her much larger body of work that explores the invisible and large voids, Dwyer’s work often uses the leitmotif of ‘o’s and zeros as symbols of what’s missing. They are used again here on her giant windsock, which is executed in fabrics of yellow, brown and black
 
The mission of the work was pretty simple according to the acclaimed public artist. “I set out to make kinetic sculpture with wind. I hoped it would be simple and profound.
 
The project logisitics were however quite complex. Windwatcher required many hours of fine planning, hundred of metres of light-weight sail cloth and a team of five engineers to bring it to life. The ambitious work funded by Frasers Property is part of a progressive property development strategy that incorporates an $8 million public art programme for former Carlton United Brewery site.
 
Dwyer’s Windwatcher is the second instalment in a giant art program that Michaelie Crawford and Jennifer Turpin were asked to develop back in 2009. In 2011 they have engaged the brilliance of curator Anne Loxley to commission permanent and temporary pieces that extend and grow local dialogue between the public and the the construction site of Fraser’s Central Park development.
 
The most recent artwork commissioned had to be installed under perfect wind conditions, with the windsock (pictured) finally being strung from the heritage-listed brick chimney-stack on the 28 September following a week of riotously windy weather.
 
 
“Installing it was incredibly dangerous with all that steel and armature up there,” explains Mikala Dwyer of their mission to hang the work. “52 metres up high, up on a crane you really have to plan it well.” says the artist, who suffers from no shortage of large-scale public art experience. “I have done projects of this scale before but never anything quite this high,” she says.
 
“I live in Redfern and I can see it when I drive over the hill toward the city. This week I have been driving everyone nuts but calling them up and asking them if they can see it,” says the artist.
 
Dwyer is pleased with the final result of her art work and her enthusiasm for the project is completely contagious. She admits that it was both a stroke of luck and good planning, that the engineers on the project matched her can-do spirit.
 
“Event Engineers are just this mad bunch of guys who can do anything. All things ambitious and all things ridiculous. I have never come across such nimble and light-footed engineers,” says Dwyer. “The more outrageous it would get, the more excited they would get. They would just come up with these brilliant solutions,” Dwyer says.
 
 
Anne Loxley is currently collaborating with several artists to continue great work for the Fraser Central Park development.  Earlier in the year local community were invited to contribute images for the work Local Memory by artist Brook Andrew. 
 
 
Brook Andrew – Local Memory 2011
 
Local Memory (pictured) was designed to engage the community with their archived photos and create a dialogue about the mixed-use development that borders Abercrombie Street, Broadway and Kensington Street in Sydney’s buzzing inner-west.
 
New artists soon to be joining the project include contemporary art duo Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro and Caroline Rothwell. Fraser’s say these artists will be sequentially and cumulatively installed over the rest of the year.
 
For more information about Frasers, Central Park or artists Mikala Dwyer and Brook Andrew please visit: Artist in Residence