A growing number of magnificent composite sculptures are transforming the Perth, Western Australia, landscape as artists discover the exciting potential offered by the material and new design technology.
The latest addition is an eight-metre high sculpture by artist Jon Tarry unveiled by St John of God Murdoch Hospital this month. Entitled Elevación, the sculpture stands at the hospital entrance, part of a multi-million dollar redevelopment project.
Mr Tarry won the commission in a competitive process with his depiction in bronze of St John of God carrying a person watched over by an angel, the spiralling white abstract form created in FRP by Melbourne based Composites Constructions.
Mr Tarry blended these modern and traditional aesthetics and materials to create an artwork with an uplifting, nurturing theme to tie in with the hospital’s vision of providing the community with holistic health care, said Chief Executive Officer John Fogarty.
“I wanted to create an artwork for everyone; one that could be open to interpretation so everyone would be able to form a connection with it,” Mr Tarry said.
“I combined the two ways of working – traditional modelling in bronze of the two people and contemporary materials in abstract form for the angel, connecting the ground and sky to be aspirational. The two forms together are breathtaking.”
Choosing composites for the abstract form, for their strength, light-weight and clean lines, Mr Tarry drew on the latest design and 3D modelling technology which translated directly into production at Stephen Campbell’s Composites Constructions facility in Melbourne.
“I know and understand mould making and sculptural form so to be able to do that on a large scale and with organic forms is incredibly exciting. Composites have won me,” says the Perth-based artist who has completed more than 42 public and numerous private art commissions in Australia, the USA, Middle East and Europe.
Mr Campbell is equally as excited with the finished sculpture and being part of Mr Tarry’s creative process. He kept Mr Tarry informed of progress with regular photos.
“Boat building involves large complex structures so this project was not a challenge for us but it did involve a lot of handwork, craftsmanship, at every stage,” says Mr Campbell.
Using the artist’s 3D CAD files and engineering drawings from Perth-based Capital House, moulds and the sandwich foam core were CNC machined, carbon fibre reinforcement added and then FRP hard-coated and finished with a highly durable marine-class paint.
“There were countless hours of hand lay-up and sanding to get the quality and finish we wanted. In all it was three months from getting the artist’s drawings to putting the finished sculpture on the truck for the three and a half thousand kilometre trip to Perth. But seeing the result, it is just an amazing sculpture and we are proud to have been part of it.”
Mr Tarry said: “When people arrive at the hospital, before their surgery or procedure, before visiting a loved one or before coming to work, I want them to see the beauty in Elevación and fill up with the spirit of life.”
The artist: Jon Tarry
The manufacturer: Composite Constructions
The engineers: Capital House