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The mesmerising work of artist Mel O’Callaghan will be staged at...

The mesmerising work of artist Mel O’Callaghan will be staged at an architectural scale

The mesmerising work of artist Mel O’Callaghan will be staged at an architectural scale

Photo by Laura Stevens

An impressively large-scale commission of Mel O’Callaghan’s work will be a centrepoint on the contours of a new building by TWT Property Group. We speak with the artist about her practice and working at such an exaggerated scale.

The absolutely extraordinary, entirely beautiful and always mesmerising and thought provoking work of Mel O’Callaghan has earned this artist a global place as one of Australia’s most celebrated contemporary artists.

With a respected career on the international art stage, Mel O’Callaghan is an informed and impressive selection for TWT Property Group’s new St Leonards development ‘The Collective’. “O’Callaghan intrinsically understands architectural scale and how people inhabit and interact with spaces, which she will bring to the fore in this public artwork,” says commissioning curator Natalia Ottolenghi Bradshaw.

Known for her large-scale installations, working across moving image, painting, performance and sculpture, O’Callaghan’s artwork Vertical Flow, (which will be fully integrated into the new development) is impressively large at more than seven metres high and 21 metres wide.

Respire, Respire and Centre of the Centre, 2019, Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Manilla. Photo by Maculangen 

To be completed in 2025, the artwork will be set into the glass façade of Oxley Street, curving with the contours of the building to reflect the precinct. The piece is intended to welcome the community into the space through the interaction and merging of colours, which represents the flow of our day-to-day lives.

Reds, blues, gold and purple will be integrated into the work and will change and evolve with the shifting light of each season, offering a new experience of colour, dependent on when the viewer encounters the work.

“In Vertical Flow, I embraced the way in which pigments produce fluctuations in texture, form and tone. With the combination of changing light and the flow of people circulating through the space, gradual tonal shifts are revealed throughout the day. In my practice, I hope to engage audiences in the experience of the work through the transmission of vibration, sound or light. Here at The Collective, the large windows of the foyer hold between the panes of glass densely laid pigments in a semi-translucent field of colour. When light penetrates the glass there is a transmutation of the passage from one state to the other, between the occupants and the public, reconstructing itself as a whole,” says O’Callaghan.

To some extent, installations and commissioned installations often look fabulous but fail to be a continuance of the artist’s underlying concerns. In this case, the opposite is apparent with O’Callaghan’s oeuvre populated with artworks that offer ritualised spaces of spectacle and introspection – all of which are continued with this work.

Centre of the Centre, 2019, Artspace, Sydney. Photo by Zan Wimberley

“Aesthetic meditation lies at the centre of O’Callaghan’s practice, creating a moment for private reflection and a sense of transcendence and transformation for those passing through the entrance to the building. As is a constant in O’Callaghan’s work, she will urge visitors and tenants to come in and out through the glass doors, leaving a trace of what was and pointing to what may be,” says Bradshaw.

TWT Property Group Managing Director Tina Tian says… we “believe that art is central to the wellbeing of individuals and communities and, with evidence showing the positive effect of colour on mental wellbeing and mood, this became a key factor in the selection of Vertical Flow as the cornerstone for the new development.”

The work itself posits a continuation of O’Callaghan’s previous works on glass, creating a mesmerising transition of light and colour whereby the diurnally responsive interaction of pigments produce nuanced variations in texture, form and tone to cast reflected hues across the walls and ceiling.

Mel O’Callaghan

O’Callaghan is a recognised artist of considerable calibre with exhibitions at major public institutions including the Centre Pompidou, Palais de Tokyo, National Gallery of Victoria, and The Esker Foundation, Canada. Mel O’Callahan is represented by Cassandra Bird, Sydney.


TWT Property

Expanding its role as a developer to that of Arts patron, TWT Property Group plays an active role in supporting artists, performers and creative businesses to flourish, including its role as Principal Partner for the 21st Biennale of Sydney.


First Sound, Last Sound, 2022, Carriageworks, Sydney. Photo by Zan Wimberley
Ensemble, 2013, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2018. Photo by Caitlin Mills
Parade, 2016, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photo by Clemens Habict


Gillian Serisier

Gillian Serisier is an editor-at-large for Indesign Media Asia Pacific, where she covers all corners of design and art across the Habitus and Indesign network. Gillian has contributed to many outstanding publications, and her extensive knowledge and sharp words make for compelling storytelling.