For visitors to the newly opened HOTA Gallery, discovering the view of the Gold Coast skyline from Level 5 is a treasured delight.
The vista sweeps up to the north where the white sails of Sea World can be spotted, and across to the high rises of Surfers Paradise - with just a peek of the ocean - then all the way down south to the Border Ranges. The organic form of nerung ballun Nerang River can be seen twisting through the urban landscape.
To celebrate the launch of HOTA Gallery, Gold Coast artist Eric Koo was commissioned to capture this spectacular panorama in a pull-out map. Published internationally with his cartoons and graphic novels, Koo has lived on the Gold Coast for some twenty years and is attracted to its natural beauty. In his drawings, Koo works from a point of observation, but without judgement, offering a keen eye and a sensitive interpretation to his surrounds. He spoke of his working style:
'I usually walk around and take photos of anything from people, buildings, cars, trees to magpies and seagulls, I collect images from magazines or the internet. I’ll then make drawings from them, usually by using a bush and Indian ink. These are then scanned and stored on the computer. At some point in time, I’ll play around with them, superimpose them, some kind of random process or improvisation and something interesting might happen. The end result is usually a digital file that can translate into a book or limited-edition print.'
With his finely observed line drawings and subtle injection of narrative, he was the perfect choice for commissioning to capture the Gold Coast skyline. Asked if the city inspired his practice, Koo was poetic and philosophical:
‘The city, with its own peculiar geographical and social aspects, its surf culture, contribute to what has been famously labelled “the glitter strip”. But all glitter must rest on some structure, and I guess the interesting part is to uncover that structure, that way of thinking, that process.’
In his drawing for HOTA, Koo has transitioned the city across the day, starting with a yellow sky on the left-hand side of the composition with some rogue seagulls flying into the scene. As the image progresses across the panorama, the sky changes from pale blue to midnight blue on the far right, complete with spectacular fireworks. The hall marks of the city skyline can be picked out, including J.W.Marriott, Circle on Cavill, and Soul. As an ever-evolving skyline, a crane pictured on Chevron Island – what will the cityscape look like in a couple of years?
A dynamic city with a love of both architecture, and the natural world, Koo’s map has captured the skyline at a defining point of our city – with a new home for the visual arts on the Gold Coast. The beautiful Evandale Lake can be spotted, and so too can HOTA’s fabulous Outdoor Stage.
Koo’s map can be found on Level 5 of the new HOTA Gallery, and for just a small donation of $3 a take-home copy can be yours.
Eric Koo. Untitled 2021. digital print. Commissioned by HOTA to coincide with the Gallery opening 2021.