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Major grant for commision at UniSA

by Rebecca Jenkins

Artist Fiona HallA stunning public artwork by one of Australia’s most successful artists will be a symbolic centrepiece of UniSA’s new Chancellery building.

Fiona Hall has been commissioned by the University to create a thought-provoking piece for the entrance of the new building, which will also house the University’s new Art Museum.

Hall, who lectured at the University’s School of Art for 14 years and continues to live and work in South Australia, already has renowned public artworks in Sydney and at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, but this will be the first in her home state.

The work, entitled Different Forms of Intelligence, is made up of several sculptural elements, each modelled into geometric shapes which differently portray the human brain. The finished work will be prominently displayed in a specially crafted glass ‘vitrine’, incorporated as an architectural feature of the new building, designed by WARDLE + HASSELL Architects in Association.

“In the world we inhabit today we are all too aware that intelligence, and creativity can take many forms, and that the fostering of multifarious ways of thinking and tackling problems and theories is of utmost importance in our schools and universities,” Hall has said of her inspiration for the commission.

Different Forms of Intelligence has attracted a $100,000 State Government grant, provided through Arts SA.Premier Mike Rann, who announced the grant last month, said he was delighted that Hall’s first major SA commission will be for a flagship Adelaide building.

“This new contemporary work will make a welcome addition to the western end of North Terrace and become a new focal point along this magnificent cultural boulevard,” he said.

UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor Denise Bradley said the Governments generous contribution was greatly appreciated.

“The Fiona Hall commision promises to be a memorable artwork of great artistic substance, by a South Australian artist at the peak of her powers,” she said.

The work is based on the five regular polyhedra known as the Platonic solids. The tetrahedron, octahedron, cube, icosahedron and dodecahedron. Hall will use a range of materials including bronze, steel, stone, wood and glass. There will also be an anatomically correct brain made from glass.

UniSA Art Museum Director Erica Green said it was fantastic and timely that the University is undertaking such an artistically significant project with Hall, given its strong links with the artist.

“Fiona Hall is one of the most successful and important contemporary artists currently working in Australia and it is remarkable, really, that she has not until now been awarded a major public project of this kind, in this State.” Green said.

“As with all her works of art, Different Forms of Intelligence operates on many levels, but it has strong themes of education and intellectual endeavour, which fit perfectly with the philosophy of our university and will appeal to many people.”

The new building, on the corner of Fenn Place and North Tce is due to be opened in 2007.

A major survey exhibition of Hall’s work, The Art of Fiona Hall 1988-2005, developed by the Queensland Art Gallery and curated by Julie Ewington, is on view in Adelaide at the Art Gallery of South Australia, until September 11.