Percent for Art Scheme at Balcatta SHS

12 November 2020

The State Government’s Percent for Art Scheme encourages art in the built environment by using a percentage of a development’s overall budget to commission art on new public buildings such as schools, police stations and hospitals.

Western Australian artists are contracted to deliver exciting artwork for major new public buildings under the State Government’s Percent for Art Scheme.

The Percent for Art Scheme requires up to one percent of the construction budget for new works over $2 million, to be spent on artwork.

The scheme is a State Government initiative that started in 1989.  It is managed by the Department of Finance in partnership with the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries ˗ which is responsible for arts policy in the State.

Artist Simon Gilby has created two artworks for the Stage 2 development of Balcatta Senior High School.  These works link to each together (both physically and conceptually), and to the interior and exterior of the new Performing Arts Theatre.  These interdependent artworks offer a meaningful response to the site’s context and history.  Together, they interpret the rich heritage and topography of the school and complement the school’s architecture.

The ‘Pinnacle’ artwork can be found outside the Administration building in Amelia Street.  ‘Pinnacle’ is a cast concrete work referencing the school’s emblem – a pinnacle.  The piece consists of seven expanded sections, reinterpreting a pinnacle which is embedded into the embankment adjacent to the Performing Arts Theatre.  ‘Pinnacle’ acts as an inspiring entry statement for the school, referencing both the successive processes of sedimentation that have created the pinnacles and the ongoing human occupation of the site over time.

A void created between the individual pinnacle sections reveals a human figure, reminding us of the ancient human connection to the site, as well as the school’s more recent layers of meaning and history.  At night, the figure within the void is illuminated, creating an ethereal human presence.  The edges of the pinnacle sections are faceted, creating an architectural response to the pinnacle’s natural organic surface.

Suspended in the three-storey void of the Performing Arts Theatre is ‘Cascade’, an artwork constructed from handcrafted stainless-steel lace.  The piece references the ebb and flow of the sea and is evocative of the waves of human migration and interconnected histories of the school.  The artwork consists of layered, computer generated topographies of the inland sea, flowing into a fluted column and arriving at a single solid point hovering above the ground.  The highly reflective surface of the work is lit at night to emphasise the dramatic hovering effect.

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