New installation by local artist Thea Skelsey

24 Nov 2020

New installation by local artist Thea Skelsey

Each year, we commission a Gold Coast artist to create an artwork to celebrate the festive spirit. This December we’re looking forward to a novel yuletide installation in the HOTA precinct by local artist Thea Skelsey as our HOTA Christmas commission.

To reflect a contemporary Christmas at HOTA, Thea has imagined a visual language to evoke joy and festivity in an ambitious installation, Feel it in the air. Thea is a multi-disciplinary artist who works across graphic design, visual art and textile art. What started as an outlet from the monotony of day-to-day work life, is now an art practice that resounds from a place of pure creative freedom and a loving representation of a coastal home.

Thea has drawn on her love of the sea and personal memories to conceptualise a contemporary Christmas. She has created an iconography that references the International Code of Symbols (otherwise known as the nautical alphabet). The graphic cryptogram and use of colour and shape is a recognisable form of code used across the globe to signal between two ships. Inspired by the yuletide season that foreruns a Gold Coast summer, Feel it in the air is a vividly rich and immersive installation of 12 banners along our Riverside Lawn (which is found behind the Outdoor Stage).

Flags have long been used for symbolising wins and defeats or signalling allies and enemies. They share stories and have long been used to represent people and place. Using the notion of the nautical alphabet and Christmas as inspiration, Thea has blended the concepts and fashioned geometric shapes and pattern to represent love, joy and hope. Each flag is meticulously composed and sewn to express the sentiment of the season and a time to honour loved ones.

Feel it in the air is a place to reflect and connect during the festive season. Traditional hues of green and red, epitomise the relationship to the time of year. The flag as a design object plays with shapes from the iconic Norfolk Pines, rays of glorious summer sunshine and silhouettes of playful Christmas crackers. The installation imposes a nautical flavour along the shoreline at HOTA and as the breeze shifts, Thea’s graphic compositions act as a celebration.

After a year of uncertainty, distance and disconnectedness, Feel it in the air reminds us of the long-lived practice to connect with people, and signals the enduring message of joy, celebration and honouring loved ones during summertime.

You can see this installation in the HOTA precinct, on the lawn beside the river, from 1 Dec-4 Jan.

Meet the artist: Thea Skelsey 

Thea Skelsey works as a visual and textile artist. Her experiences include working on graphic design for marketing and travel companies to running away to foreign countries such as Argentina and Mexico where she has emerged with an aesthetic inspired by culture, language, and design. Thea works from her studio at Mint Art House in Burleigh Heads and you can read more about her and her works here.


You can read more about some of our previous artists commissions here.


Image credit: Ellamay Fitzgerald