Olivia: Can you give us a brief overview of your public art experience/engagement to date?
HELLO House, Rose Nolan in collaboration with OOF! Architecture, image courtesy of the artist
Rose: In a way, this more public engagement for my art work started with a collaboration with OOF! Architecture on our own house – The HELLO House - completed in 2014. It was a private project but with a front-facing public façade as a positive salutation to the local neighbourhood. In 2017, I was fortunate to work with Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) on a red and white ceramic tile wall work (GIVE OR TAKE) for the refurbished Library at the Caulfield Campus. Since late 2018, I’ve been working on a large-scale terrazzo floor work and sculptural text work for the new Sydney Metro concourse at Central Station commissioned by Transport NSW and Sydney Metro. This is still in progress but hopefully will be completed in 2023. And last year, in 2021, a project with Six Degrees Architects and commissioned by Melbourne City Council was completed at the Queen Victoria Market at the new QV Munro Hub.
Olivia: Can you tell us a little bit about the meaning behind your latest T Projects commission?
YOU ME HERE US NOW , 2022, Hallam Station, Photo: Christian Capurro
Rose: YOU ME HERE US NOW operates as an open invitation. In response to the project brief, it celebrates the power of shared stories, place and time as people move together through the new Hallam Station. The big bold words aim to engage visitors, to open-up a conversation with them, and to reflect on ways of being with each other in the world. It attempts to simply bring location, journey and destination together into the present moment. And with that to reflect the connection, collective pride and optimism of the diverse community of Hallam.
Olivia: What was the most successful and most challenging aspect of your T Projects commission at Hallam Road?
Rose: The most successful aspect was finally seeing the artwork installed utilising the underside of the elevated train tracks. This allowed for maximum impact for a broad audience whether you were accessing Hallam Station as a commuter or passing by. It was simple but powerful. The more challenging aspect of the commission was the lack of information about the layers of regulation and compliance for contractors working within the rail sector. This would’ve been helpful to know much earlier on, but then again perhaps if I’d known I may not have agreed to work on the project!
Olivia: What do you like about working on public art projects?
Rose: It’s taken me a while to consider working within the public realm, to apply or adapt aspects of my arts practice to function in public space. The opportunity to play with scale – to see my small intimate working models realised on a large scale – is always exciting and surprising for me. This often requires working in collaboration with other people with different skills and expertise which is a great learning opportunity. I like the way in which you have to respond to a particular set of problems – site, context, budget, histories, community - to find a solution. It’s about finding a clever way to work within these conditions rather than seeing them as a limitation. After that it requires patience and the ability to stay the course to get the best outcome.
YOU ME HERE US NOW , concept render 2022, image courtesy of the artist
Olivia: What do you see as the main differences between working on gallery work and public art?
Rose: There’s a freedom to developing work for exhibition in the privacy of one’s studio space, without having to answer to anyone else - that is wonderful. Obviously working on a public art project with multiple stakeholders and a much broader audience means that this freedom isn’t present to the same extent. I notice this difference in particular, when I’ve completed a public art project or when a project may have hit a more stressful point. I have a strong desire to get into my studio away from the public gaze.
Olivia: Is there a dream public art project you would love to work on in the future?
Rose: The public art works that I’ve completed or are in progress currently are two-dimensional in nature; they’ve been rendered on a flat surface whether that’s a concrete floor or the underside of an elevated train track. They become three-dimensional, as they take on space and integrate into the architecture of the building. I have small models or proposals for public art works that are more sculptural; they function to create a space for people to interact with. I would love to see realised if there was an opportunity in the future.