Key Themes: Art-historical Reference; Site Specificity
- To your eye, do these suspended sculptural forms seem to be rising or falling?
- Thinking still about rising and falling, how do you think these forms specifically relate to the site in which they are installed?
- How big do you think the largest element is? Using your own height as a point of comparison, try to accurately estimate the element’s size (*answer at bottom of sheet).
- Analyse the use of Art Principles in the artwork. How has the artist created a sense of unity? How has the artist used variety in the artwork? How has the artist used space within the artwork?
Riverside Corolla 2011 is an example of a contemporary public artwork that is inspired by a much older historical artwork. The inspiration was the woodblock print Ejiri in Suruga Province (Sunshū Ejiri) (circa 1830 – 1832), from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei) by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai. In this very famous print strong winds are blowing sheets of paper up into the sky, away from a group of travellers. John Meade honed in on one aspect of this two-dimensional artwork, the floating paper sheets, as the inspiration for his group of organically shaped, petal-like sculptural elements. The first part of the title of the artwork indicates that it is site-specific – ‘Riverside’ refers to its location beside the Yarra River. The second word refers to the form of the sculpture – a ‘Corolla’ is the term for the collective whorl of petals around the centre of a flower. You could say that Meade’s sculpture re-imagines Hokusai’s composition as petals blowing off a flower and out across the Yarra River.
Riverside Corolla is an example of a public artwork in private space, and was commissioned by the commercial company who run the Southbank centre as part of a renovation. The constraints of this commission were challenging – the artwork had to be suspended twenty metres up in the air above a set of escalators. To achieve this Meade involved structural engineers to help design the artwork so that it would be structurally safe, whilst also retaining the sense of lightness that inspired the artist in the original Hokusai print. Meade made drawings and models which were then translated into design renderings. These rendering were scaled-up and then produced in fibreglass by a fabricator as the final forms. Finally, after being sprayed in paint, they were installed using a large crane.
Note: Canadian contemporary artist Jeff Wall’s photographic artwork A Sudden Gust of Wind 1993 was inspired by the same Hokusai print.
*The largest element is is just under six meters at its longest dimension.