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Stainless Relief for Public Buildings


Posted 17 May 1999

A stainless steel mesh sculpture created by jeweller/designer, Barbara Heath is a focal point of the Neville Bonner Building in Brisbane.

Stainless steel was chosen for the sculpture for its durability and low maintenance properties. This was important because the sculpture is mounted on the building exterior, exposed to marine weather conditions.

The 'high tech', contemporary look that was achieved with stainless also compliments the other metals used on the building.

The themes of the seven metre artwork are office networks, family links and team work. It refers to the history of the area with the design reflecting fishing nets that were used by local aboriginals.

The work features stainless steel rings intertwined into a net structure, based on a traditional chain mail construction technique used in chain jewellery making.

Because it sits in front of a window, different perspectives and understandings of the work can be gained depending on the viewing angle. It can be viewed from the interior of the building, against the surrounding landscape, or through openings in the building which frame it against the sky.

The sculpture is constructed out of grade 316 stainless steel and was fabricated by Haylock Sheet Metal. Flat links of round bar were rolled and interlinked to form the mesh structure.

It is one of four artworks that were commissioned by the Department of Public Works for the Neville Bonner building. Architects Davenport Campbell and Donovan Hill worked closely with the artists to ensure that the artworks were an integral part of the building's design, yet remained equally impressive as stand alone pieces.

Although not typical for government public works, projects of this nature will become more prevalent in the future. It is expected that the Queensland government's art policy, which states that 2% of the budget for all public buildings must be spent on public art, will encourage building designers, architects and artists to work closely on integrating artworks into the design of all public buildings.

This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 13, May 1999.

Lissel Pilcher