Perth’s new stadium is a landmark on Western Australia’s twenty-first century urban horizon, articulating Perth’s unique position on the extremes of Australia. FORM, charged with devising and executing the public art strategy for the stadium and its surrounding parkland, procured artists from Perth and the UK, and helped them navigate the process from initial concept to installation. FORM’s expertise for this undertaking is derived from nearly a decade of working with Aboriginal artists, many of whom have participated in Land.Mark.Art, FORM’s Aboriginal Design Development program.
The stadium precinct hosts sixteen public artworks, and the majority are by Western Australian Aboriginal artists, some responding to their first ever public art commission. Some of the artworks have a direct relationship with the stadium structure, in that they are specifically part of the fabric of the building. Others have been commissioned for the parkland surrounding the building.
Three commissions—a statement ‘entrance’ sculpture by Australian Jon Tarry, a land-based art piece by British artist Chris Drury, and a light and sound installation integrated into a pedestrian underpass by Australian duo Chris Nixon and Tom Lucey—are covered by the obligatory Percent for Art Scheme, which sequesters a portion of a development’s budget for public art.
The remaining commissions are discretionary. Thanks to the guidance of the Whadjuk Working Party Advisory Group, and generous sponsorship secured by FORM, these are exclusively fulfilled by Noongar artists, whose installations range from functional (shade canopies) through to artworks designed for play and interaction, and major pieces which signal the area’s connection to important Aboriginal stories and sites.
Which is how, for example, a poem in English and Noongar comes to be wrapped around the stadium façade; and why Noongar seasons are explored in the surrounding parkland. One of them, Djeran, the fertility season, is marked by the ‘life story’ of an emu egg while another, the wildflower season of Kambarang, is represented by a shade canopy scattered with star-like Everlastings. To the north and south, the site is punctuated by two scaled-up representations of Whadjuk message sticks, traditionally used to invite different Aboriginal nations to a single gathering space.
I’m sure not only our people would be proud, but all West Australians would be proud of this project. Nick Abraham, member of the Whadjuk Working Party.
Art is very strong in our culture, and everything exists in that wheel, that circle of life. Barry Maguire (Balladong, Yued, Wadjuk, Pinjarred Noongarartist)
This project has been a State wide benchmark of successful Indigenous engagement. This has been achieved through early engagement with the Whadjuk Working Party. Credit to the former government, I think with the efforts they went to, to ensure that the Noongar story was a part of the story since day one. Ben Wyatt, MLA.
This has been our strongest case of social investment in any project, worldwide. Chevron.