I just got back from Hobart today where I had been invited by Constance ARI to spend some time making a work with Lucy Parakhina, a local artist, for Dark Mofo. We had a pedestrian underpass tunnel to work with (so did two other pairs) at the Railway Fountain Roundabout, a site with heavy foot traffic and thoroughfare at the end of a main street (Liverpool) in Hobart’s centre. Incidentally the roundabout has recently been awarded the world’s best (I’m not actually sure what the conditions for this award are).
There’s a recently restored fountain situated in the centre of the roundabout, built in a style that’s visibly out of step with the surrounding city. Reminiscent of a spaceship, it was the Googie architectural style and a man named Geoff Parr who brought it about in the early 60’s. During the day the water sprays across whichever side the wind is blowing towards, and at night the whole things is illuminated in colour (it was blue during my first visit there and red the next for dark mofo).
Our response, Destination: West Coast, was to alter the way passersby walked through the tunnel by narrowing it to an off-centre bottleneck and filling the blocked space with collaged images of a setting very distant to the cold wintery Hobart we found ourselves in. The pictures showed a Southern California bathed in sunshine and optimism from the 1940-60’s, the time of Googie heyday when many roadside cafes and petrol (‘gas’) stations were designed to match the huge car culture and space-age excitement of the day.
Building the work was a lot of fun - if a little stressful - which I guess goes along with building a largish structure out of no previous experience in doing so. We had lots of help and it absolutely couldn’t have been done in time for the opening just 2 and a half days after the first structural pine was lifted down to the tunnel (using our knees, not our back of course).
The larger project was called Neither Here Nor There. It was featured on ABC radio and Mercury paper and at one stage we had 1700 people pass through in just 2 hours which was kinda surreal and a really gratifying.
Thanks to everyone who helped and came down to see the work – intentionally or by complete mistake...