Urban Oasis revealed

19 July 2016

An urban oasis will sprout from the ground in the heart of the Gold Coast’s bustling tourist precinct.

 Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate and Robyn Archer AO, the City’s Arts and Culture Strategic Advisor, announced the winning design for the major public art commission today.

The work, titled Urban Oasis, will be created by international artist Alex Pentek. It features four stainless steel shield ferns, standing 11 metres tall together with a series of ground panels.

“Alex presented a winning combination of elements – a detailed and authentic response to the original rainforest site, a sleek and beautiful aesthetic in the work itself, and faultless technical detail,’’ said jury chair, Ms Archer.

Mayor Tate said the artwork would encourage engagement within the precinct. 

“This project sows the seeds for future city defining artworks. We’re developing a public art plan and revising our public art policy, creating a framework to give arts and culture momentum beyond 2018,” he said.

The artwork is an impression of the shield fern which once grew in abundance at this location. The structures will curl, stretch and appear in various stages of growth as they emerge from the concrete at each corner of the intersection of Surfers Paradise Boulevard and Elkhorn Avenue. Installation is expected to be complete in April 2017.

The artwork complements the naming of streets in this area - Elkhorn Avenue, Staghorn Avenue and Ferny Avenue - all ferns that grow in sub-tropical rainforests in the Gold Coast area.

The winning artist has a growing portfolio of national and international work that explores different site specific ideas in a broad range of materials.

“This sculpture is permeable, transparent and permanent. It will enhance the location without detracting visibility from local businesses while enhancing the public use and enjoyment of this space,” Mr Pentek said. 

The Irish sculptor is no stranger to Australia, having represented Ireland at Ten Days on the Island, in Hobart in 2007. He was one of two international finalists for a landmark public sculpture for Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, in 2010. He brings 19 years’ experience producing large scale work nationally and internationally.

Urban Oasis is the beginning of the cultural corridor and signifies the pivot point between Surfers Paradise and the cultural precinct under construction.

In another sign of the cultural evolution on the Gold Coast, local entries featured strongly, comprising a quarter of submissions. Mayor Tate announced another opportunity for local artists – a mentorship opportunity with Alex Pentek.

“We’re offering a $5000 grant to an emerging or early career artist to help develop a one-on-one professional development opportunity through a mentorship with Alex,” Cr Tate said.

The City will work with the selected local artist and Alex Pentek to develop a program tailored to their aspirations and professional development needs in public art.

“Investing in arts and culture creates another dimension to our economy, drives visitor growth and provides our local creatives with mentoring opportunities and more ways for them to explore their art and their ideas,” Cr Tate said.

“As part of the Culture Strategy it’s vital that all of our programs involve, celebrate and benefit our local artists and creatives. In the next few months we’ll announce an opportunity open only to local artists, this work will complement and converge with the installation of Urban Oasis,” he said.

An independent jury, a cross section of industry and stakeholder representatives, selected five finalists, out of a local, national and international pool of more than 50 submissions, and invited them to develop their designs further. The jury then selected a winning entry which was endorsed by Council at its meeting on 24 June 2016.

Information: moregoldcoast.com.au/publicart


Urban Oasis revealed  photo