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'Djalgarra'- Public Sculpture

A Developer's Percent for Public Art Project

Artists Concept


(The Canning River)

 Public Sculpture for development at 1481 Albany Highway – Gosnells.



The development occupies a high profile site on the Corner of Nicholson Road and Albany Highway. The new building will be a visual ‘bookend’ to a long row of similar commercial properties.


The challenge for us, as artists, is to create a sculptural form that would ‘punctuate’ this key node crossing point and be of sufficient scale to register, visually, on multiple  sight levels, all within a very tight budget.


Our design approach was to go back to basics, before any human settlement in the area, taking inspiration from the meandering grace of the Canning River itself. Water is life and a ‘Portal’ or ‘Gateway’ forms a symbolic transition between different states of ‘being’. Thus the Canning River flows through all our histories, primal ecology, Indigenous Culture, (where it features prominently in the Wagyl mythology), European Settlement and beyond to the multi-cultural society now straddling the banks today.


The Canning River is now hidden within a vast matrix of urban development. We have taken the aerial image of the river and shaped it in painted steel as a cypher and mental stimulus for understanding what lies behind, beneath, what went before and what will probably continue long after our species has disappeared.


It is a ‘scribble’ in the air yet rooted firmly into the fabric of the bedrock beneath; a metaphor encompassing complex historical processes yet utterly simple in visual expression.


‘Djalgarra’…a Portal in time.


We have redeveloped the initial design to deepen the visual language expressing the concept of ‘flowing river’ by articulating the surface with a series of overlapping plates whose sides will be plasma cut in undulating ‘ripple’ like patterns.


This inter-linking rippling surface will add a whole new exciting visual dimension to the sculpture causing it to ebb and flow, visually, as the eye of the observer undulates across the surface like wind on water.  


Joan Walsh-Smith & Charles Smith

Gidgegannup Nov 12th 2013.



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