Art has always been synonymous with 101 Collins Street's architectural grandeur and it is home to some of the most compelling gallery spaces in the city. Exhibiting acclaimed local and international artists, a suite of permanent public artworks reflects 101 Collins’ past, present and future as an ardent contributor to Melbourne’s art community.
Traversing from the elegance of Collins Street’s ‘Paris End’ to the dynamic vibrancy of Flinders Lane, five large-scale artworks respond to the building’s material, activity and essence, adding weight and cultural significance to the everyday arrival experience for customers and visitors.
“Art leads to connection and emotional contemplation. It shows us that we are more than commodities, reminding us of the very human ability to think deeply, imagine and question, beyond our task-focused everyday realities.”
Emily Cormack, Curator
Five artists have been commissioned to curate a series of new permanent sculptural installations that will embody the qualities of innovation, exalted status and refined, classic contemporary elegance.
These new commissions will better represent the essence of the building in a new suite of specifically commissioned, highly responsive artworks located strategically throughout the spaces.
Emily Cormack, Curator of Contemporary and Public Art
Barerarerungar recognises the longest-living culture in the world and it is my hope that this work provides an immersive and reflective space for people to slow down and connect with Country in the city. Barerarerungar displays four chapters including footage from Brisbane Ranges, Timbertop, Cape Schanck and Sherbrooke Forest.
José is interested in making people feel present and aware of their surroundings. This totem-like composition consists of travertine marble volumes, raw volcanic rocks and a mirror-finished metal sphere balanced vertically. The sphere and cube as platonic volumes illustrate how forces are exchanged, weight is distributed and gravity is confronted.“It’s human nature to organise things”, says José. “There’s no complex narrative, I want it to be easy for people to feel an emotional connection.” José’s sculptures respond to the pure mass, gravitas and columns of 101 Collins, working with the overall language of 101 Collins yet strong in their own presence.
“We need to humanise our built environment as much as possible. Where we work, where we live. My sculptures are there for all different people, it doesn’t matter where you come from, the works are there for people to enjoy. It’s like a universal understanding. The more people who get to see them and experience the materials, the happier I am.”
This totem-like composition consists of travertine marble volumes, raw volcanic rocks and a mirror-finished metal sphere balanced horizontally. The sphere and cube as platonic volumes illustrate how forces are exchanged, weight is distributed and gravity is confronted. “One could say that humans have tipped the world out of balance and a constant effort is needed to retain the fragile balance of our society”, says José. “So, these works are simple, easily recognisable and yet also have a narrative that gives them a gravitas both in their materiality and as reminders of how society should function.”
First modelled as 25cm high clay figures, these part caryatid, part reassembled column-like figures were scanned in three-dimensions at extremely high resolution using a gem scanner, enabling them to be scaled up to almost two metres high without losing any of their exquisite detail. After digitally reassembling the figures, they reentered the world by being machine-cut and hand-finished, becoming the ‘positives’ from which the moulds were made enabling the bronze casting processes to begin. The casting and ‘reassembly’ processes culminated with two completed human-scaled bronze figures being finished with a whiteish patina of bismuth nitrate, leaving each of the figures with one highly polished, mirror-like section which reflects each of The Sisters’ surroundings and the viewer that moves around them.
“101 Collins has a temple-like scale and dimension and you don’t often get an opportunity as an artist to engage with that kind of environment. When this project came along with Emily’s curatorial perspective, it was so perfectly tailored to my practice, it seemed the perfect fit.”
Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, duplex (2021), porcelain bowls, pump, glass ring: glass panels, steel armature, film projection.
duplex (2021) is composed as an immersive sensory artwork and is designed to generate a synesthetic response in the body of the viewer.
Installed in the gold reflecting pools at 101 Collin’s entrance, duplex (2021) features a collection of porcelain bowls that float on the water’s surface gently clinking into one another, creating a tinkling percussive sound. Simultaneously, projected on the opposite pool’s wall is a film depicting white circles of varying sizes that echo the movement of the bowls. As the large white dots collide and slide across the wall, they are reflected in the pool below, extending the synesthetic experience of this immersive installation. Boursier-Mougenot describes the projection work as a “retinal afterglow” that is “like a silent echo of the crystalline sounds of its companion piece.”
The grand entrance spaces of 101 Collins are rich in the reverberant materials of water, hard stone and marble, which ensures that sound is carried in complex ways. In this context the chiming bell-like sounds are experienced differently by each viewer, depending on where they stand, or in what direction they look. Boursier-Mougenot refers to this embodied viewing experience as corps sonore (sonic body), whereby the viewer is immersed in a multi-faceted set of sensory experiences. For the artist architectural spaces can become akin to instruments that are played by the body, as a viewer moves through them. Duplex is composed in two halves and is incomplete until it has been experienced as a whole, with the viewer’s body and senses generating the work’s entirety.
Orbit consists of a pair of 6.5m high mirror-polish bronze infinity symbols, which cantilever over the Collins Street entrance of the 101 Collins lobby. These two large-scale sculptures articulate the central ceiling space, highlighting its grand vastness, while embracing the viewer in a nurturing but also comic and slightly unnerving way. Coated in lush liquid mirror polish, Orbit captures and mimics the movement of people in the space, at once reflecting the bodies of the viewers while they simultaneously dematerialise and become part of it.
Candescent Moon suggests universal themes of sequences, celestial orders and lunar rhythms. These ideas are particularly pertinent to the modern, corporate lifestyle, where life is a delicate balance within daily cycles of time and the forces of nature’s flux and unpredictability.
Candescent Moon is an artwork that encourages interactivity with the viewer. That is, as the viewer moves around the work its appearance and nature change from light to dark and from one texture to another. This sequential change can represent a change in time such as the passing from day into night. It could equally stand for changes in temperature, from warm to cold. Furthermore, it encompasses major celestial events such as a lunar eclipse, when the earth obscures the sun’s light from illuminating the moon.
The work evokes a timeless quality, bridging the gap between the everyday and our greater universe, reminding us that our lives are governed by the forces of nature and transience.
Art in Focus
The Ground Floor of 101 Collins is one of the most significant opportunities to exhibit and engage with art on a daily basis. 101 Collins has partnered with Gertrude, a not-for-profit gallery and studio complex with venues in Preston South and Collingwood, to harness this visibility and showcase a bi-annual rotation that reflects the vitality of local contemporary artists and art. With a nearly 40 year history, Gertrude is at the forefront of contemporary visual art practices in Australia.
Working closely with Gertrude, the selected artists and their works are intended to spark conversation, provoke thought and provide a platform for emerging artists to showcase their works.
Dane Mitchell (1976) is one of Aotearoa’s leading artists and was Aotearoa New Zealand’s representative at the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019. He now lives in Melbourne. He has presented solo exhibitions at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan; daadgalerie, Berlin, Germany; Institut D’Art Contemporain, Lyon, France; Te Papa, Wellington, New Zealand; Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand; Govett-Brewster, New Plymouth, New Zealand; Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne, Australia; SAM Sound Art Museum, Beijing, China; Adam Art Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand; RaebervonStenglin, Zurich, Switzerland; Christopher Grimes Gallery, Los Angeles, United States; Artspace, Auckland, New Zealand; A Gentil Carioca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Galerie West, Den Haag, The Netherlands amongst many others.
Nina Sanadze is a Soviet-born (Georgia), Naarm/Melbourne-based visual artist who works with monuments, archives and political action. Her practice is dedicated to peace-building. Nina’s work has been described as “conceptual art dressed in classical form”, often manifesting itself as sizeable installations and social practice. Sanadze presents narratives built upon personal stories from within the experience of conflict; a wall of remembering that acts as a fortification against repeating histories. She believes in the power of art and beauty to bring people together and that peace-building is achieved through proactive work, determination, negotiation, and the forging of narratives designed to unite competing ideologies.
Presenting appropriated original artefacts, blunt replicas, or documentary films as witnesses and evidence, Sanadze seeks to re-examine grand political narratives from a diametric personal position. Deploying any appropriate medium, her work responds to the most immediate socio-economic and political global developments with urgency. Humour and beauty allow her to address often disturbing concerns, reflecting the complex paradigm of our existence, which is simultaneously sublime and horrific.
Noriko Nakamura completed a Fine Art Foundation Diploma at Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, University of the Arts London, before receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2012. Nakamura experiments with the transformational potential of materials in order to explore the relationship that exists between humans and the material world. She has presented solo exhibitions at West Space, Melbourne and TCB Art Inc., Melbourne. Her work has been exhibited at XYZ Collective, Tokyo; RM Gallery, Auckland; Dog Park Art Project Space, Christchurch; Murray White Room, Melbourne; National Gallery of Victoria Studio, Melbourne and Sutton Projects, Melbourne. She received an Australia Council ArtStart grant in 2012.