The winner of the annual Architecture Commission at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) provides a highlight for the summer calendar. In 2017 the structure will be a centrepiece of the inaugural NGV Triennial of contemporary art and design starting December 15, 2017 and running until April 15, 2018, surveying art and design through the works of 78 artists and designers from 32 countries.
A unified conception of stunning simplicity, Garden Wall by Retallack Thompson and Other Architects, will frame the existing features found in the Grollo Equiset Garden of the NGV International on St Kilda Road.
This includes the great bronze sculpture of a seated woman (1958) by English sculptor Henry Moore (1898-1986), best known for his semi-abstract forms providing a 20th century impression in the humanist tradition.
Five projects were shortlisted from an entry pool of 79 entries from across Australia to be assessed on ‘quality, originality and viability’.
An objective is to allow visitors to rediscover the NGV’s garden by gradually revealing and examining individually its visual art works instead of them being seen as part of a grand scheme.
It may provide a way to “… ignite a conversation about the increasing prevalence of walls, partitions and fences in our contemporary world” said NGV Director Tony Ellwood recently, when making the announcement.
Part landscape, part architecture, the visually-arresting Garden Wall was selected as the winning concept by the 2017 competition jury because it activated the existing NGV garden while expanding upon traditional interpretations of what constitutes ‘architecture’
As the architect David Neustein related“ … in order to make the NGV garden more visible, we first have to render it invisible.”
The maze consists of over 260 white walls clad in transparent mesh and wandering its pathways should allow our sense of adventure to emerge, as we commit to an exploration of art and life.
In drawing the distinction between nature in the raw and the humanised landscape, which we have sought to express through the centuries, the possibilities for further growth emerge.
The winning entry for me seems to embrace the philosophy that only by mentally completing the incomplete can we discover true beauty and find the way to discover our inner self while we begin to learn how to expand our understanding of life
Perhaps we have arrived happily at a point of considered refinement where by concentrating upon the process through which perfection was sought, rather than upon perfection itself, we may yet release the boundaries we put on ourselves to find what it is we are seeking.
In executing this design the raw forms of nature are symbolised, suggested and implied while the works of art have become pertinent to the composition.
A garden offers us security and it is as if a kind power instilled in its essence, has come around us to preserve us all. The idea it seems to me is also to ensure ties of an ineffable spirituality, which can be felt at all levels of perception contributing to our cultural growth.
It should provide a seamless crossover with the exhibition Akio Makigawa: Spirit and Memory, which will be on show at NGV Australia at Federation Square from August 25, 2017 until February.
Makigawa was all about making, processing and developing ideas that would benefit the people of Melbourne, where he lived from 1981 until his death in 1999.
Akio Makigawa worked in Australia 1974–99 and was able to achieve a ‘balance between physicality and inner tranquility’ through his work.
He is highly regarded as one of the most ‘accomplished and important sculptors in the pantheon of contemporary Australian art’.
His Garden of Desire V 1998 was sublime in its tranquility and showcased how well he had his hand eloquently focussed on linking both past and present.
To go from viewing his exhibition to view that of the architectural commission Garden Wall when they coincide, should provide an illuminating experience.
The exhibitions will be FREE to the public.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017
St Kilda Road, Melbourne
December 2017 – April, 2018
Federation Square, Melbourne
August 25 – February 2018