Street sculptures carve a career transition

Steve Cybulka with the sculptures in Sturt Street. ART AND DESIGN
Steve Cybulka with the sculptures in Sturt Street.

Take a wander around the low rise complex Ergo Apartments in Sturt Street and you’ll come face-to-face with three vast, unusual-looking sculptures that stand out from, yet strangely fit into their inner-city surroundings.

These sculptures were celebrated last month at a street party, marking artist and UniSA student Steve Cybulka’s first public artwork, following a commission by Adelaide City Council.

With a brief to create three integrated artwork elements connected to the Ergo Apartments – a stand-alone sculpture in a central location in the public space, an artistic screen, and an interactive sculpture – Transition…109 was Steve’s response.

Steve’s artwork comprises 109 facets, reflecting both the transition of shapes within the work, and the movement of the space itself, with changes in lighting throughout the day enabling a constant interplay between shadow and light across the sculptures.

The sculptures also take on a biographical note with Steve describing the integrated artwork as a merging of art and architectural design that reflects his own personal transition from working in the building industry to becoming an artist.

“I made the move to UniSA in order to expand the conceptual and academic side of my art practice,” says Steve who is an honours student majoring in sculpture and installation.

“The facilities and the accessibility and professionalism within the teaching staff were what drew me to select UniSA to continue my study. My honours degree has been challenging, but it has helped me develop a better understanding of my own practice, both creatively and professionally.

“My previous career has also assisted my studies and the development of my arts practice in a number of ways.

“The actual physical construction skills and material knowledge I developed within the building industry has allowed me to create large-scale works, and to work relatively independently.

“It has also been great to have practical experience in managing projects, and interacting with other professions or trades, and clients.”

Steve Cybulka with the sculptures in Sturt Street. Steve describes the Ergo artworks as borrowing lines, form and textures from the surrounding architecture, which have been reinterpreted within the public space.

“The pieces are contemporary, vibrant and engaging and also interactive, adding to the experience of the area both visually and practically for the residents and public who use the space,” Steve says.

“The flowing curves of the paving and landscaping design, along with the clean straight lines of the apartment building, shape the artwork to exist harmoniously in the space and with the surrounding architectural design.”

Councillor and Public Art Round Table member, Natasha Malani, says the artwork reflects the way modern development can incorporate contemporary art to activate a space while also providing functionality.

According to Steve, blurring the boundaries between art and architecture is about opening up new spaces.

“There are many views as to how connected or interrelated art and architecture are. This is a very broad and highly debated topic within the art community,” he says.

“For me the interesting aspect that is explored by both of them is how spaces are experienced, and how manipulations of space can be used to engage a certain response, whether that is physical, emotional or otherwise.”

Steve recently completed an installation, Creating Spaces (which is now on permanent display within Adelaide Festival Centre), which explored these themes of design and architecture working together.

As Steve finishes his honours at UniSA, he is also preparing work for the graduation exhibition in December. He will also be working on an installation for the Majestic Minima Hotel in Adelaide later this year.