Local sculptural artist Damian Vick was commissioned by the Whittlesea council to create this beautiful piece. In his words “The Guardian celebrates the connection between humanity and nature. It evokes a sense of calm wonder and demonstrates how the natural world affects our sense of wellbeing. It acts as a reminder of the fragile beauty of the environment and our responsibility to protect it.”
The sculpture is located on “The Great Eastern Way”, in South Morang and incorporates electronic components to illuminate the bird at night. The finished work is 4.6m tall, has an overall footprint that is 2.8 metres wide x 4.4 metres long at its furthest point, and weighs approximately 1100kg.
We recently had a Q&A with Damian to understand more about his creative process and the work that went into this amazing piece of art.
What steps were involved in the commissioning process for The Guardian?
The Whittlesea council held a multi-stage tender process, where potential candidates submitted an EOI, outlining their experience and artistic process. Council then selected 3 candidates to develop and present their proposal to a committee of staff and community members, who then selected their preferred artist/idea.
What was the brief for this piece?
The brief from the client itself was relatively open in terms of defining the physical characteristics of the work. However, interested parties were supplied with a significant amount of documentation from council itself and additional data generated by community consultation that council had undertaken. As I read through responses from the community whilst considering the values of the council and the context of the sculptures location, it pointed very strongly towards the idea that preservation and an appreciation of the environment was a core value of the local community, and a driving factor for why people had chosen to live in the area.
Where did your inspiration come from?
Inspiration is a curious thing. It can come from just about anywhere, (film, music, artwork, scientific endeavour, literature, conversation, personal experience, etc.), but despite its potential to appear anywhere, it is often fleeting and extremely elusive when you go looking for it.
In order to give inspiration a nudge I examine the brief and employ the design process to identify symbols, themes and recurring concepts in order to determine the boundaries of the project and a hierarchy of factors that should be present in the work. Ironically, it is these boundaries that allow me to think creatively and search for inspiration that is relevant to the project. Nothing is more daunting to me than an empty, blank canvas without edges, so I first work out where I think the edges should be and work from there.
What materials have you crafted into the sculpture?
Of all the works I’ve ever made, this one employed the greatest number of different materials, which turned out to be the greatest technical challenge I faced in its fabrication. The internal structure as well as several external elements are made from mild steel that was hot dip galvanised at Kingfield Galvanizing. In addition to this, I used corten steel, powder coated aluminium and timber. I chose to use locally sourced Spotted Gum boards to clad the timber section as its dense, oily nature makes it a suitable material that can withstand exposure to the elements and requires minimal maintenance. Various electronic components (solar panels, lighting, and control system) are also integrated into the work to illuminate the birds’ wings and body during the evening.
Thank-you Damian for your insights into this beautiful piece.
And thank you to Wolf Nitch for the photography and this video of The Guardian
For anyone wishing to see The Guardian, it’s clearly visible from The Great Eastern Way road in South Morang and is positioned along a popular walking path in the Hillsview Recreation Reserve, adjacent to a nature reserve and wetlands. And here’s some timelapse footage of the installation of The Guardian.