'Freeway Project - Readymade Abstraction'

Proposal for the 'Southern Way McClelland Commission' 2011


(although this proposal was unsuccessful I am including it here as it represents an important milestone in my practise - a shift for the first time into three dimensions, from painting to sculpture. It forecasts future work including 'Polaroid Project', 'Under Construction - Chaos and Order', 'Medicine' and 'Sony - Low Noise')



The conceptual premise of my practice is underpinned by the appropriation of readymade abstract forms and designs that exist in the urban environment. These forms are deconstructed, re-contextualized, and presented back to the viewer as a new way of interpreting their environment. Stripped from their original and often prosaic contexts these abstract elements are elevated to a new status, one in which the overlooked or unnoticed is re-defined and accorded a completely new interpretation and experience.


My proposal for this commission will expand upon these concepts. 


It relates to a recent series of paintings titled the ‘Hume Highway Project’ exhibited in 2010 at Tolarno Galleries in Melbourne. This project used as a reference point highway signage along the Hume between Melbourne and Sydney which I had documented over a 5-year period. Stripped of all typography the signage was reduced to essential abstract forms. The result was a series of paintings that operated primarily as a trigger point for collective memories of various transitional states and shared experiences.


My proposal for the Southern Way McClelland Commission is titled ‘Freeway Project – Readymade Abstraction’ and could be seen as the sculptural extension of this previous body of work. 


The proposed sculptural installation will consists of a series of large scale highway signs in various shapes and colours that adopt the existing ‘highway sign colour palette’. These signs will be fabricated without any text or pictorial references. Deconstructed down to their essential components, they will simply read as an enormous ensemble of colourful abstract elements running parallel with the freeway. 


Highway signage exists in pre-determined places for the road user to navigate efficiently to their destination. The intention with this work however, is to provide the viewer an alternate experience, one that is not conditioned upon destinations or departure points but instead focuses on what is perceived along the way. I want the work to act as a framework for our own individual mapping of space, collective memories, and shared experiences within the landscape.


A pivotal aspect of this installation is the way it would be viewed at night. Given the proper lighting, the reflective nature of these signs will provide a luminous and colourful spectacle to motorists and their passengers as they pass by.


I expect that over time ‘Freeway Project - Readymade Abstraction’ will become an integral component of the Peninsula Link ‘freeway experience’ fostering new perspectives and opening up challenging dialogues between the audience and the artwork. Not only will it offer travellers an interesting counterpoint to the existing signage but more importantly it will also provide a positive engagement with contemporary Australian abstraction.