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Jodie Cunningham. We dance together. DESIGN Canberra 2017. Photo: 5 Foot Photography
Jodie Cunningham. We dance together. DESIGN Canberra 2017. Photo: 5 Foot Photography

A Graphic Intervention

A Graphic Intervention

The popular DESIGN Canberra graphic intervention project has transformed our city centre every November. In 2020, the program will be bigger than ever with three new installations across Canberra.

A large-scale graphic intervention is an opportunity for designers to develop site specific works to transform public spaces and show them in a new light. In turn, the project enriches an artist’s practice, bringing diverse audiences to their work.

For instance, thanks to the visibility gained from the DESIGN Canberra graphic intervention in 2017, Jodie Cunningham was invited to collaborate on a series of large-scale artworks and installations for the Wooley St Project (PLACE Laboratory, 2019). Cunningham’s signature bright colours and geometric shapes defined her ‘Canberra Journeys’ artworks which were successfully applied to the precinct’s gateway, street murals and light poles.

Our city’s design heritage presents rich opportunities for creative responses. Canberra is one of the few designed national capital cities in the world and the local Ngunnawal People’s culture of invention has been in motion for more than 75,000 years.  Walter and Marion Griffin’s visionary design a century ago, iconic experimental modernist architecture of the 1950s and 60s, and contemporary and sustainable design developments today, are some of the many ways that Canberra has been – and will always be – a living design laboratory.

Featured artists

Since 2017, the graphic intervention program has featured original work by leading Canberra artists: Jodie Cunningham, Marilou Chagnaud, Yanni Pounartzis, and Megan Hinton.

Jodie Cunningham We dance together. Photo: 5 Foot Photography

Jodie Cunningham We Dance Together (2017)

Artist Jodie Cunningham created We Dance Together for DESIGN Canberra 2017. For Cunningham, the artwork was an assemblage of abstracted geometric symbols referencing modernist aesthetics, Canberra’s iconic architecture, and cultural symbols for community.

The brightly coloured graphic intervention invited viewers into the Civic Square through the fountain via ‘stepping stones’ of aqua and lime circles and encouraged people to dance on its geometric shapes, celebrating the commonalities that bring us together.

A self confessed chromaphile, Artist Jodie Cunningham has an obsession with colour, circles, pattern, historical objects and the delights of perspex. She trained as a painter and also works with public art, installation, drawing, digital imaging, sculpture, jewellery and design. Her work deals with the themes of abstraction, symbolism, ornamentation, colour, play, place, community, architecture, emotion, memory, sustainability and transformation.

Marilou Chagnaud, Play in Loop, 2018. Photo: 5 Foot Photography

Marilou Chagnaud, Play in Loop, 2018. Photo: 5 Foot Photography

Marilou Chagnaud Play in a loop (2018)

Play in a loop is a work created by Marilou Chagnoud for the 2018 ground intervention on Civic Square. The design was made of black and white lines curving around the central fountain. The bold, graphic lines were woven on the ground to form a loop, like an abstract path that can be walked on.

The use of black and white paint contrasted with the ground of Civic Square to create a strong visual effect. Play in a loop invited viewers to a playful experience in this well-known location.

Marilou Chagnaud works across printmaking, sculpture, and site-responsive installations. She combines minimal expression and delicate materials such as paper and textile to create works that invite reflection on our perception of dimensionality, repetition, and movement. Her recent work pushes the boundaries of paper to explore its sculptural potential through folding, stacking, and hanging.

Yanni Pounartzis, Geometric Shadows – 12 noon. Photo: 5 Foot Photography

 Yanni Pounartzis Geometric Shadows 12 Noon (2018)

Geometric Shadows – 12 Noon by Yanni Pounartzis was installed on the corner of Petrie Plaza and Bunda Street in the Canberra City as part of DESIGN Canberra in 2018.

Pounartzis responded to the 2018 festival theme of geometry: capturing a moment in time by turning shadows from buildings, signs and nature into geometric art.  Geometric Shadows 12 Noon invited passers-by to take a second look and pay attention to the urban structures that go unnoticed in daily life.

Yanni Pounartzis is a Sydney-based artist who focuses on perspectival investigations. The forms are instinctual and aim to create the illusion of elements hovering over the canvas, giving depth and volume on a two-dimensional surface. Whilst highly controlled, this painstaking, delicate work is painted freehand and without the aid of masking.

Photo: 5 Foot Photography

Megan Hinton RE/CONSTRUCT (2019).

RE/CONSTRUCT was a playful assemblage of architectural inspired forms, balancing and tessellating together to form a constructed composition.

There was a playful tension of balance between the positive and negative forms, speaking to the balance associated with creating a utopian environment. Balance is key. RE/CONSTRUCT’s seemingly simplistic forms were carefully deconstructed from Canberra’s built environment to be reworked and rebuilt into this architectural inspired pattern which responded to the 2019 festival theme of Utopia.

Megan Hinton is an Canberra based artist and designer working with printmaking, textile design, painting and collaborative projects. Her works explore the interaction of colour and form, with her recent work strongly influenced by geometric abstraction, constructivism and Bauhaus textiles.

Meet the 2020 artists

In 2020, DESIGN Canberra presents three new graphic interventions: in the CBD, Gungahlin and on the foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin.

Gungahlin Place Park, Gungahlin

The Gungahlin graphic intervention is part of the new This Is Suburbia series launching in DESIGN Canberra 2020. This graphic intervention, in the fast-growing Gungahlin area, will be installed at Gungahlin Place Park to illuminate the recent design history and achievements in our suburbs.

Chelsea Lemon is a Canberra based designer and maker known for her work with timber. Her practice incorporates art into craft and design and offers a new perspective on furniture design within Australia. Chelsea was the DESIGN Canberra 2018 designer in residence.

For her Gungahlin graphic intervention, Lemon’s design is based on the Namadgi bush fires, in particular around the Yankee Hat trail. There is a distinct line where the fire cut off (which is seen on the left), and the right is to suggest the regrowth and repair occurring. The colours, shapes and patterns suggest certain species and flora that were affected.

Lake Burley Griffin foreshore

The Lake Burley Griffin graphic intervention will be designed by Luritja artist Kayannie Denigan.

This graphic intervention will be presented on Ngunnawal Country in front of the new CCAS Gallery in the Commonwealth Place Precinct.

The Ngunnawal are the Indigenous people of this region and its first inhabitants. It is a harsh climate and difficult country for hunter-gatherer people. To live here required great knowledge of the environment, skilful custodianship of it and close cooperation. Ngunnawal people continue to live and travel through the Canberra region, preserving their culture by maintaining connections to land and through artistic expression.

In 2020, DESIGN Canberra signature exhibitions will be presented at the new CCAS Gallery in the Commonwealth Place Precinct. Designed by Durbach Block Architects and built at the edge of Lake Burley Griffin, the Commwonwealth Place precinct is a careful and sensitive insertion into the environment. The dominant dish form enhances the views of Old and New Parliament Houses from across the lake. At the same time, it opens up the lake’s shore for use as public space. Conceived as a new urban space, the subtle design of the precinct falls somewhere between building and landscape.

Monaro Mall, CBD

In 2020, DESIGN Canberra will centre the majority of our vibrant CBD programs at Monaro Mall’s iconic City Walk entry, home to Frank Hinder’s beautiful installation underneath the imposing slim pillars and mosaic tiles which have stood the test of time. The Monaro Mall entry is an inspiring expression of the vision of our early planners, designers and artists. It is a timely reminder of our contemporary shared responsibility to preserve and appreciate our rich design history, especially from the mid-century. A graphic intervention (ground mural) will be installed at the foot of the Monaro Mall canopy across City Walk, in front of the CRA’s new City Walk Public Realm Improvements. This is a highly visible opportunity for a local artist to translate their work to a large public scale.

Acclaimed early career glass artist Hannah Gason will use the CBD graphic intervention to re-imagine the glass mosaic by Frank Hinder, Star Ceiling (1963). Gason, a Canberra-based visual artist, has drawn on the negative space between each section of colour to lead the passerby’s eyes to the pillars and upwards to Star Ceiling. The mosaic and bands of colour celebrate the arrangement of Hinder’s mosaic. The artist has chosen shades of a golden yellow, to bring the bright golden light we experience in Canberra right into the city.