Talent, design, advanced materials & engineering converge to create public art Good public art is said to have far-reaching cultural, social, and economic benefits by adding meaning to our cities and uniqueness to our communities.
Advanced composites technology is increasingly enabling the realisation of ambitious, beautiful and dynamic public art commissions that embody cultural spirit and atmosphere. The most recent of these is ‘Convergence’, which stands proudly at the main entrance to the new Perth Stadium. Created by artist Dr Jonathan Tarry (and team), having been commissioned by Westadium Consortium through public art consultants FORM, “Convergence’ generates an Interactive space, inviting people to engage with its sweeping forms. Tarry says it is intended to embody the flow of the nearby Swan River and the “fearless energy of a football game”.
At over 12-metres high, the structure is a hollow carbon fibre shell with 14mm thick walls and a 6mm foam core for robustness and to prevent print-through and dimpling. The final sections were coated with a textured finish and a coat of metallic grey.
The artwork reflects the surface of Western Australia’s many water bodies and the environment. Its atmosphere is further enhanced with a 16-channel programmable advanced light system, which illuminates the piece at night, making the form breath, sway and sparkle.
The structure was fabricated by longterm Composites Australia member, Composite Constructions. Managing Director, Steven Campbell said that, “while the shape was complex and complicated to build and required the lateral thinking of a boat builder for issues such as windage, we’re very happy with the results.”
Brian Nelson of Capital House Australasia, specialist FRP engineering consultants for the project, said that carbon fibre composite was the material of choice. It facilitated the complexity of form while satisfying the high degree of torsional effects induced by wind and self-weight, and also from people climbing on the work. The structural behaviour called for the combined properties of stiffness, durability, formability and strength that could only be satisfied with a lightweight carbon fibre composite solution.
Design considerations for the structure were considerable, such as the ability to transport it across the Nullarbor Plain and erect it on the building site. The team at Composites Constructions built the structure in sections, within which stainless steel plate connectors were bonded. Travel cradles were also engineered for the journey. It took the team, a crane, eight people and a full day to load the sections onto two trucks.
Realising ambitious creative outcomes requires strategic partnerships and collaboration across many disciplines working with artists. For ‘Convergence’, more than 50 skilled people contributed to the creation of the project over a nine month period. In particular, Jon Tarry sees Steve Campbell’s role as pivotal in the collaboration between artist, engineer and fabricator. The result is a proud testimony to talent, design and advanced materials and engineering.