SHARE
COPY LINK

ART

Eiffel tower gives view of unique Australian art

Aboriginal Australian artist Lena Nyadbi's work is set to gain a new audience beginning on Thursday evening. Her newest piece has been installed atop the famous Quai Branly in Paris, and will be visible only from the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel tower gives view of unique Australian art
From June 6th, this work by Australian artist Lena Nyadbi on the roof of the Quai Branly, will be visible from the tower. Photo: Pierre Andrieu/AFP

Visitors to the Eiffel Tower get a little extra for the price of their entry ticket from Thursday with the unveiling of a new landmark on Paris's artistic landscape — or skyscape.

The new art work has been installed on a roof at the Quai Branly museum on the banks of the Seine, just a stone's throw from the iconic tower that is visited by more than seven million people every year.

From Thursday evening, those visitors will be able to admire a massive enlargement of a work by Australian Aboriginal artist Lena Nyadbi which has been stencilled on to the roof using rubberized paint.

The 700-square-metre (7,500 sq. ft) installation has been specifically designed so that it will be visible from several different levels of the tower.

Its prominence at the centre of a city regarded as the art capital of the world will make it likely to become the best known example of the art of Australia's indigenous peoples, described by the late critic Robert Hughes as "the last great art movement of the 20th Century."

As such, it also represents remarkable recognition for Nyadbi, an artist now in her late 70s who began her working life as a labourer on the arid cattle stations of northwestern Australia.

Her black and white abstract piece is entitled Dayiwul Lirlmim (Barramundi Scales) and is 46 times bigger than the ochre and charcoal original created as a visual interpretation of a creation story from the Gija people of Western Australia.

In the story, three women try to catch a barramundi. The fish gets away from the women but, as it escapes over rocks, it scatters its scales across the territory of the Gija in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia, thus providing an explanation of why that region came to be one of the world's leading sources of diamonds.

Nyadbi's work is already a permanent fixture in the museum as she created a mural, Jimbirla and Gemerre (spearheads and scarifications), that adorns one of the external walls.

Works by seven other Australian Aboriginal artists are featured on ceilings throughout the museum.

An unusually chilly spring in Paris ensured the rooftop paintwork –  using the same weatherproof paint used for the city's traffic signs –  was completed just in time for the opening, museum director Stephane Martin told AFP.

"I had a few nerves last week when it was still raining –  we badly needed a few dry days to get it finished."

To mark the opening of the new rooftop installation, Australia's embassy in Paris is hosting a parallel exhibition of works by eight Gija artists.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

ARCHITECTURE

Futuristic Gehry tower opens in World Heritage Arles

Rising high beyond an ancient Roman arena in Arles, a tall, twisted tower created by Frank Gehry shimmers in the sun, the latest futuristic addition to this southern French city known for its World Heritage sites.

Futuristic Gehry tower opens in World Heritage Arles
Gehry's Luma Tower opens in Arles, France. Photo: H I / Pixabay

The tower, which opens to the public on Saturday, is the flagship attraction of a new “creative campus” conceived by the Swiss Luma arts foundation that wants to offer artists a space to create, collaborate and showcase their work.

Gehry, the 92-year-old brain behind Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum and Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall, wrapped 11,000 stainless steel panels around his tower above a huge glass round base.

It will house contemporary art exhibitions, a library, and offices, while the Luma Arles campus as a whole will host conferences and live performances.

From a distance, the structure reflects the changing lights of this town that inspired Van Gogh, capturing the whiteness of the limestone Alpilles mountain range nearby which glows a fierce orange when the sun sets.

Mustapha Bouhayati, the head of Luma Arles, says the town is no stranger to
imposing monuments; its ancient Roman arena and theatre have long drawn the
crowds.

The tower is just the latest addition, he says. “We’re building the heritage of tomorrow.”

Luma Arles spreads out over a huge former industrial wasteland.

Maja Hoffmann, a Swiss patron of the arts who created the foundation, says
the site took seven years to build and many more years to conceive.

Maja Hoffmann, founder and president of the Luma Foundation. Photo: Pascal GUYOT / AFP

Aside from the tower, Luma Arles also has exhibition and performance spaces in former industrial buildings, a phosphorescent skatepark created by South Korean artist Koo Jeong A and a sprawling public park conceived by Belgian landscape architect Bas Smets.

‘Arles chose me’

The wealthy great-granddaughter of a founder of Swiss drug giant Roche, Hoffmann has for years been involved in the world of contemporary art, like her grandmother before her.

A documentary producer and arts collector, she owns photos by Annie Leibovitz and Diane Arbus and says she hung out with Jean-Michel Basquiat in New York.

Her foundation’s stated aim is to promote artists and their work, with a special interest in environmental issues, human rights, education and culture.

She refuses to answer a question on how much the project in Arles cost. But as to why she chose the 53,000-strong town, Hoffmann responds: “I did not choose Arles, Arles chose me.”

She moved there as a baby when her father Luc Hoffmann, who co-founded WWF,
created a reserve to preserve the biodiversity of the Camargue, a region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Rhone river delta known for its pink flamingos.

The tower reflects that, with Camargue salt used as mural panels and the
delta’s algae as textile dye.

Hoffmann says she wants her project to attract more visitors in the winter, in a town where nearly a quarter of the population lives under the poverty line.

Some 190 people will be working at the Luma project over the summer, Bouhayati says, adding that Hoffman has created an “ecosystem for creation”.

SHOW COMMENTS