Box Kite Piazza, Bald Hill

At some places, the box kites punch up out of the pavement…

 As the most visited destination in the Illawarra, Bald Hill at Stanwell Tops is a place loved by locals and tourists alike. Wollongong City Council recently completed upgrading Bald Hill to match the site’s significant profile.

In early 2015 I was invited to collaborate with Wollongong City Council landscape architects Andy Goldie and Felicity Skoberne. Brainstorming ideas for potential public art works at such a significant place was an exciting process.

Five potential public art projects were identified, each exploring a different site based narrative. Each had strong design constraints due to extreme environmental exposure and heavy pedestrian visitation. In addition, the art works needed to reflect the horizontality- “the baldness”- of the site. Of the the five potential public art works, three have been realised. Of these three, the central pavement artwork is my design.

Arguably Australia’s greatest inventor, Lawrence Hargrave lived in Stanwell Park in the 1890’s. The pavement artwork honours Lawrence Hargrave, referencing the box kites that held him aloft , 16 feet above Stanwell Park on November 12, 1894. This first manned flight was a world aeronautical breakthrough; Hargraves design for stable wing surfaces was used successfully by the earliest generation of aeroplanes.

The Box Kite pavement provides a focal point that is playful and visually stimulating .

As a meeting area adjacent to both the beloved Mr Whippy van and the tourist bus stop, the space jostles with visitors on most days of the year. The work is mainly viewed by pedestrians and has been designed to be enjoyed at different focal distances, changing depending on the viewing angle.

At some places the box kites punch up out of the pavement, appearing three dimensional, an optical illusion which humorously engages visitors; closer up, the terrazzo pavement is studded with handmade stoneware fossils which reference the geology of the site and are designed to catch the eye of children.

The large scale of the work also makes it visible from the air, extending a visual dialogue to those above, soaring in machines that owe their existence to the historic kites that first flew from this unique place.

Detail: Handmade stoneware fossils imbedded in the terrazzo.
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