When the Waterhall Centre in South Guildford, opened for business, it also unveiled an enigmatic series of floating images … a new public art installation called “The Gallery” by Peteris and Jillian Ciemitis.
The artists wanted to create a series of repeated images of trees as if they were portraits or ‘floating trees’ on exhibition. The floating trees of Waterhall are based on drawings which forensically examine the form and texture of their trunks and branches.
The Waterhall residential estate in South Guildford, Western Australia, has historically been part of the property holdings of the Guildford Grammar School, and it is recorded that some early tree plantings in the colony were undertaken in close proximity to the site. The artwork theme remembers the historic practice of clearing and replanting in the locality.
The artists used the negative space of the panels to allow branches to disappear and re-emerge in the same way they appear amongst foliage. The artists wanted to use this technique to make the images feel more abstract; almost like ‘messy calligraphy’.
They also played with the idea of repeated, ‘processed’ tree forms as references to the notion of commodification … especially in their position where they appear to be marching toward the loading docks of the centre.
The panel production used a Finnish concrete form methodology. The innovative technique embeds the image into the concrete panels themselves using a form of ‘etching’ process, creating an image that will last the life of the building itself.
Working in close consultation with the project architects KPA Architecture, the artists also carefully considered the manner in which the works should respond to context. The subtle colouring and mark-making ensured that the imagery didn’t attempt to compete with the architectural forms of the building. They also carefully positioned key images on the building so that they would almost classically align to the viewlines along particular roads when approaching.