Eliza Ponds is a new subdivision in Spearwood Western Australia sited where for 100 years Watson’s Foods founded by William Watson produced its Watsonia branded smallgoods and dairy products. I was asked to produce concepts for 6 public artworks that celebrated the history of the site for inclusion in the public open spaces within the subdivision. The commissioner of the works George Watson Foods wanted to incorporate parts of the factory in the works as well if possible.
This was one of the many loading docks at the factory (I believe it was where the meal was loaded).
This is the finished work “Conservation” it incorporates the loading dock as part of the design.
Conservation is based on Newton’s cradle, a device that demonstrates conservation of momentum and energy via a series of swinging spheres. When one on the end is lifted and released, the resulting force travels through the line and pushes the last one upward. Positioned as an arch over the lake walkway it highlights how Watsonia conserved water by recycling and treating it. The unique connection between this work of art and its environment can offer visitors an insight into the ethos of Watsonia. It helps establish a distinctive identity for the development by reusing and repurposing parts of the original plant as it commemorates Watsonia’s history of recycling.
The next work “The Flying Pig” also incorporates part of the old factory. The picture above shows the salvaged parts in situ. The salvaged parts formed part of a long rail that ran through the factory. Carcasses were hung on the rail and moved around the factory during processing.
This is the “bleed rail” shown still attached to the super structure of the building.
Sections of the rail were recycled and used as legs, shown here being welded to the top section.
The original concept juxtaposed a carcass on a rail with a playground flying fox balancing innocence and necessity, life and death against each other. The work was designed to involve the viewer in interpreting and understanding it, provoking thought and creating meaning. It was considered unacceptable in its original form and I was asked to remove the pig carcass and consequently most of the impact…
The work consists of two identical sculptures. In the picture above we can see how different they look depending on the angle they are viewed from. The works will be installed at 180 degrees to each other and some distance apart on either side of the main road through the Estate. As motorists travel between them the apparent shape of the works will change.
This work is entitled “The Provider.”In the past when people banded together to hunt and gather food they celebrated success with a feast. The Provider pays homage to an ancient ancestor showing him returning from a successful hunt. Viewers of the work will take the place of villagers rushing to see the outcome of the hunt. The history of putting food on the table is a long one and buried deep in our primal memory is respect for the hunters who bought home the meat. This work marks the link between our ancient ancestors and the function of the Watsonia factory.
This work is entitled “William Watson”. It symbolises the ascension of William Watson to a higher plane and recalls that he is reputed to have been one of the first West Australians to install a lift, an example of his willingness to adopt new ways of doing things. He reflects the sky and has no physical form as he surveys his former domain from above.
This work “The Long Table” unveils the food processor’s place at the table and shows them providing food for the community encouraging recognition of their contribution to the quality of our daily life. The long table is too big for any one family and encourages the community to come together to share the simple pleasure of eating together.
The work was originally conceived to incorporate the butchering of a pig to show the commodification of animals and how packaging separates us from the reality of our place in the food chain. It was considered that this was culturally insensitive to some members of the community so cheese was used instead. Cheeses don’t confront anyone (with the possible exception of Gorgonzola).
When it was all finished it looked so good I couldn’t help myself I had to have an exhibition.George Weston Foods did the right thing and put on a really nice show for me.The exhibition was opened by Peter Ciemitis who is a fellow artist and one of the Urban Designers that designed the Estate.
It was a little strange having an opening without wine but the OHS people insisted, I made do with a nice cuppa instead.