Artist Paul Carter discusses the process involved in creating his work Nearamew, a sandstone artwork that is a permanent feature of the Federation Square environment.
-What we're trying to do with this exhibition was both to reflect on the work that is in the plaza at Federation Square, and also, to create a new set of works that were particularly for the exhibition. So we separated the show into two parts. One was a design line, which shows all the early sketches and drawings for the work, and on the other hand, a set of new works which showed how the plaza itself could be transformed into a new kind of cultural message. We have created here, a large number of wall panels that are art works in their own right, and the idea is to try and capture the parasitic nature of the work on the plaza that is parasite, standing on one side off, which of course, the National Gallery itself does here.
And so we wanted to capture that double movement, a movement out into the plaza, and the art work there, and then away from the plaza, towards a future dialogue, between the institution and its physical setting. Myth forms and exhibition based on Nearamnew, the public art work which LAB Architecture Studio and I collaborated on. It's situated in the main plaza here at Federation Square. And myth form's an attempt to tell the story of how the artwork was made. Now, what's very unusual about the exhibition is that we've made available to the public the working drawings. And what you can see behind me here are just a small section of the early thoughts, really thinking drawings that we attempted to develop as part of working out the scope of the public artwork.
Now, the artwork itself is a retelling of the stories, of the making of the place where Federation Square now stands. We took this brief quite literally. We, or at least I, was very interested in the fact that one of the names for this part of Melbourne was [INAUDIBLE], which is a local word, that by the time it had been distorted in the white settler hearing, had turned into Nearamnew. We became very interested in the possibility of working with those letters-- quite literally, the sounds and the graphic inscription of those remains to create a graphic pattern that will begin to characterize this site uniquely.
One of the interesting things about showing some of the documentation for the project is that of course, you also see some of the dead ends. So behind me, we've got some extraordinary digital drawings that were done by the Lab Architecture Studio in the early days, when we had in mind to create word coils, boring right through the physical site, and then a whole set explorations of letter forms out of which we hope to make pathways, tracks for people as they walked along to tread. It gives you some idea of the material detail which characterized the early part.
This was going back now about three years. This was early 1999, and it gives you some sense of the research that we put into the project, and which was a unique function of the way that the collaboration's established between lab architecture and the public art program. This is an exhibit which is dedicated to the regional ground figures. The artwork's in three parts. There's a pattern that runs through the cobbles, and then there are nine figures in the ground. And the figures in the ground, also made out of the Kimberley Sandstone, tell the stories associated with the site.
And if we just look at this one here, you can probably make out the way in which there are large letters that form the components of the figure. So there's a letter "e" that establishes a tile shape there. And here, there's a large letter, "a." Now, "e" and "a" are two of the letters from the word, Nearamnew, which is the name of the art work. And in fact, all of the nine figures are different combinations of these letters of the name. So nine times over, in different combinations, we've named the site.
And then within that broad template of letters, we've laid in-- that's three different levels. And that's what these drawings show with their different colors. It's three different levels we've laid in the poetic text. And this particular one is called the migrant's vision, and as befits migrants, who arrive, of course, and make a very light imprint on the land. They've just arrived. So the carving is predominantly very, very lightly done, so the pale gray signifies that it's only a very, very light carving on the surface. And then these, of course, are tracks.
And so in this sense, we're trying to visualize, to give a pictorial or graphic equivalent of the story being told, the tracks of arrival, tracks of coincidence and crossing. It says, it might be one day, very like another, when a spot forms in the bud of morning. Is it a worm, Europe's canker, a rainbow at the age of the glass, and so on. And each of these crisscrossing lines develops the experience of the migrant on arriving in Australia. And I'm imagining them becoming part of a federal society as they begin to understand the ways in which different elements come together and form larger and larger organizations.
So they themselves find that they are immersed in the new society. So it's really a poem about belonging, and it forms one of nine such poems, for each of the regional ground figures is dedicated to a different vision.