With just three weeks to go until the doors open on a brand new shopping experience at Wollongong Central, the finishing touches are being put on a multi-storey street and internal artwork.
Starting on the rooftop above the new Globe Lane entrance to the Gateway building, where His Boy Elroy was, the 25 metre long creation by multi-disciplinary Australian artist Kyle Hughes-Odgers then follows the ceiling above the stairway into the David Jones Food Hall before descending again and continuing inside.
Hughes-Odgers has spent several months planning the giant artwork and completed it during the last week before the final installation.
“It has been great to work on. I am really happy,” he said.
Art is a big theme in the newly redeveloped Gateway building. And the Perth artist was chosen because of his international reputation for figurative and abstract works.
He wanted to create a unique and lasting visual impression reflective of the region’s street culture in the entrance that will be used by thousands of people every week when the new David Jones and 10 new specialty stores open on October 5. He said the artwork will extend down the external façade of the northern entrance in Globe Lane, through the entry and onto the ceiling of the lower ground level, leading to David Jones Food Hall.
Hughes-Odgers has previously created large scale murals in New York City, Washington DC, Los Angeles, London, Sheffield, Hong Kong, Singapore, Madrid, Berlin and Cambodia.
He has participated in the Wonderwalls Festival in Port Adelaide and visited the festival in Wollongong before so knew the city prior starting his latest feature work.
Hughes-Odgers said one of the things that drew him to the Wollongong Central/David Jones Food Hall project was it was so unusual for an artwork to take such a strange shape extending from the roof, down a facade and onto a ceiling before dropping down into another area. He said he loved a challenge and diversity.
“ I have painted a lot of walls and it is exciting to work on such an interesting canvas,” he said.
“I have done a couple of shopping centres before. I’ve worked on lots of different projects including architectural facades. I do large scale public art and exhibitions and children’s books as well too. I usually say I am a visual artist. I work across so many different mediums. And I love the large scale stuff. You can’t paint three storey high works in a gallery. It is an exciting time for visual art and public art. There are so many more people who potentially see it.”
Hughes-Odgers recently completed a 35 metre high artwork on silos in Western Australia. He described the David Jones Food Hall entry project as being a little like a futuristic totem pole that told a story in both directions so people can follow it as they make their way into or out of the building.
“It is about community and the environment. Its about colour theory and spacial balance as well, with references to the broader community and nature. But it is still an abstract.”
Wollongong Central regional general manager Antony Keenan said art has been a powerful tool in the centre’s evolution and will continue to be a prominent feature of community engagement.
“Wollongong Central has worked with an array of artists during the past few years to showcase their work in unusual ways and expose them to a broad audience while at the same time enhancing our facilities and engaging with our customers,” he said.
“Whether it has been our commitment to Wonderwalls, the creativity of our hoardings throughout our redevelopment period or the current wealth of permanent art we have commissioned for the Gateway building, we have loved the way people have engaged with both the artists and their works. Kyle’s piece will be a defining attraction for our centre and we hope people will engage with the unique story it tells.”
Other recently completed artworks in the Gateway building include works on the lower ground mall wall by Claire Foxton, lower ground corridor by Andrew Fraser and the ground floor parents rooms by Steve Cross.
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