Public art. What does it mean? Well, the thing is, it means something different to everyone who views it. Touches it. Engages with it.
Public art is there for a reason. To evoke conversation and to make our sometimes shades of grey world kick up its heels, pull up its skirt and shout out THERE’S BEAUTY AND COLOUR UNDER HERE – LET’S CELEBRATE IT! Let’s tell its story. Let’s link our community’s lines and connect through it.
German born artist Ralf Kempken understands what it means to produce large-scale public art that gets tongues wagging. A Kempken work is built to last, not only because of the materials he uses, but because of the story it continues to tell long after the installation process has ceased. His stencil and screen monster size work can be viewed out the back of the iconic Dimmeys building in Richmond, at the West Footscray Railway Station (Changing Face Steel Screens), the Regional Rail Link Project in Sunshine and now in Mount Eliza opposite Manyung Gallery with the hanging of two huge screen printed works on the Telstra building in Mount Eliza Way.
“We all see things differently. I’m interested in our changing perceptions on how we view our environment. A lot of my work focusses on shadow and light. The children of the Depression can be seen from a distance at the Richmond site, but when you get up close, the images jump out of the spaces created by the mesh, shadow and reflective light. The work in Mount Eliza represents my fascination with the concept that cities can be one and the same and that the people in them are the same yet different. I love putting streets together and reimagining them.” (I suggest he should have been a town planner?) “Patterns and how we piece things together fascinates me. I love the fact that these screens will fade over time and yet remain beautiful.”
And beautiful, subtle and simply stunning is what these two works are. Over the course of our conversation from the seat in front of the Telstra building, the reaction to this art installation is both emotional and exciting.
“When Sharyn Wemyss-Smith from Manyung Gallery Group approached me to be part of this project I jumped at it,” Kempken says.
Leap on down to Mount Eliza Way to engage with this Kempken thing of beauty today.
The discussion has begun.