Art in the Pilbara
Art offers ways of understanding ‘place’. In this situation the process of creating the piece tells as much as does the material, form and arrangement of elements. From its inception this work has included rather than excluded people, its is not simply a work for the people of the region its is a work that is ‘of’ the people and the region. Maps enable us to create understandings of places. The schematic vertical hand shaped sculpture was initially taken from a topographical map of the exact location of the work, showing changes of terrain. This evolved into a larger diagram, which expresses the five-fingered hand of the river systems of the immediate region, known as by the Indigenuous people as the Makupakurinyu. This hand was stood up vertically offering a gesture of welcome, hello and farewell. Enclosing the hand a curved form continues this idea of ground mapping while connecting the horizontal ground with the sky. This work echoes other maps specific to the BHP site that show movements of Ore, this is known locally as ‘Spaghetti Junction’ for its complex overlay. Both Sculptures rise from a large circle of crushed Iron Ore. ‘The Circle of Ore’ (Circle of Awe) marks the site like a dot on a map that denotes place. The circle is an accepted symbol of meeting place, and a site of gathering. Extending from the circle 16 poles offer other clues to understand this narrow strip of land. Initially the poles continued the mapping theme indicating the distant places that are all connected to Hedland in some way. However, the poles became specific to the location marking out the path of the old railway lines, which ran through the area. In this way the early railway junction seen in the remnant platforms and building foundations is linked via the sculptures to the entrance of BHP and the town centre.
Lecturer, Architecture Landscape and Visual Arts, University of Western Australia
Jon works and lives between San Francisco and Australia.