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Gargoyles & Optical Illusions

New York is full of them and so are the great medieval cathedrals of Europe but it will come as a surprise to know that Edith Cowan University's second major art commission for the Sport and Recreation Building at Joondalup is a wonderful set of gargoyles made by artist, Adrian Jones.

If you think that gargoyles are out of place in a contemporary building, remember that one of the great symbols of modernist architecture, the Chrysler Building, has enormous ones up on each corner.

What is the connection between these ancient, even pagan sybols and an ultra modern sporting complex?

According to Adrian Jones, they repressent the balancing of body and brain required to achieve the coordinated physical effort of sport. The faces are recognisably human, yet equally mythological; their expressions range though the pleasure, anticipation, joy surprise, shock and pain of physical exertion. To some extent, they take on the appearance of trophies; the ultimate reward for effort.

Each piece has an individual character fashioned from cast sheet aluminium. The overt decoration is deliberate as Adrian Jones knows that craft is a way of drawing people into the concept of the work. He also believes that ornamentation has been overlooked in the second part of the twentieth century and that its value needs to be re-assessed.

In contract to this, Edith Cowan University's third major art commission, which is currently at the developmental stage, will be a series of abstract, minimalist works integrated with the building form.

The Health and Sciences Building at Joondalup campus will be dynamic and ecologically aware with alternative energy sources and building management systems such as on site water harvesting, low energy air conditioning, and waste re-cycling. The feel of the building will be young and progressive and so will the art works.

By working directly with the architects, artist Adrew Leslie has developed a series of two and three dimensional patterns that are indivisible from the building structure; for example, in the entry foyer the stair treads become one part of a complex inter-relationship between horizontal and vertical planes. At first these may seem like a simple grid like pattern but the subtle use of reflected light on the vertical painted columns adjacent to the stairs, will reveal some thing much more complex.

Adrew Leslie's art explores the 'relationship between surface and depth, between appearance and reality'1. Works change from one angle to another. As the viewer moves so too does the art.

On a busy campus these works will, on one level offer a direct and satisfying symmetry; but for those who take the time to contemplate and consider, a more complex beauty will be revealed.

1JULIAN GOODARD. 'Beyond the Grid'. Exhibition Catalogue. International Art Space, Kellerberrin. 1999

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