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2021 signature artwork, 'The Stills' created by artist Lucy Irvine. Photo: Lean Timms
2021 signature artwork, 'The Stills' created by artist Lucy Irvine. Photo: Lean Timms

2021 designer-in-residence announcement

Acclaimed artist and educator Lucy Irvine announced as the 2021 DESIGN Canberra festival designer-in-residence

Inspired by the festival theme of transformation, Lucy Irvine breathes new life into her woven forms and Canberra’s iconic design landmarks.

Canberra-based artist and educator Lucy Irvine has today been announced as the designer-in-residence for the 2021 DESIGN Canberra Festival. Irvine has been commissioned to create a new sculptural installation inspired by this year’s festival theme of transformation to be exhibited during the annual three-week event, presented across the nation’s capital from 8 until 28 November 2021, celebrating Canberra as a global city of design and a living design laboratory.

Now in its eighth year, DESIGN Canberra showcases the city’s thriving design community and in 2021 presents a diverse program of events, exhibitions, talks, tours, activations, markets, collaborations, artists’ studios, and open homes.

Irvine’s commissioned signature artwork, titled ‘The Stills’, will be presented in a Craft ACT exhibition for the duration of the festival. Irvine will also create a large-scale, site-specific temporary installation at The Cutting next to Lake Burley Griffin, as well as taking part in a workshop, and presenting an artist’s talk about her exhibition.

In addition, Irvine will devise a series of short-term sculptural interventions that respond to iconic Canberra 1970s design including: Daryl Jackson and Evan Walker’s School of Music building (1976); Clem Cummings concrete bus bunkers (1975); and public art by Bert Flugelman (1979). Photographs by Davey Barber of these micro-interventions will be exhibited during the festival.

DESIGN Canberra artistic director Rachael Coghlan says the festival theme of transformation is a celebration of the ways that artists and designers transform raw materials and ideas into objects, spaces, buildings and experiences to creatively express layers of meaning, history and connection from the domestic to the public sphere. In the midst of a global pandemic, the theme is especially relevant, she says. “In the context of the upheaval and disruption of the coronavirus, we have a shared responsibility and extraordinary opportunity to achieve real transformation. How can design foster a resilient, connected, creative and responsible way of living?” said Coghlan.

In creating ‘The Stills’, Irvine has revisited two small sections of weaving, cast them in bronze, then used repetition and pattern forming to show the iterative process of transformation. The artist explains: “Our appreciation of transformation can too easily rely upon a definitive before and after. What if transformation could also be an ongoing process without a beginning or an end, existing in a million small interrelations that are, for example, happening long before the materials are in hand and long after the work is on the wall?” Irvine describes her new work as a “woven cinema”, capturing transformation in stop motion: frame by frame we see change as reassuringly measurable.

Since arriving in Australia in 2003, Scottish sculptor Lucy Irvine has established herself as an artist and educator who interconnects craft and art genres. Lucy’s large-scale installations repurpose utilitarian materials that make up the unseen yet integral fabric of our lives, such as expansion joint foam, paper fasteners, nylon cord and cable ties. She then transforms our experience of these materials through processes of weaving. Following her acclaimed public artwork ‘Surface Strategies‘ commissioned for DESIGN Canberra at the Canberra Airport in 2017, Lucy Irvine continues to be involved in the festival and its celebration of design.

To find out more, read our designer-in-residence catalogue and including an essay by Dr Robyn Creagh, Senior Lecturer in Architecture at University of Notre Dame Australia, artist reflections, and a visual journey of the designer-in-residence program. You can also view our photo album documenting the journey of the making of the signature artwork.