To mark the start of Spring we’ve just installed a colourful work of art beside the lake. Sam Cranstoun’s large-scale text-based sculpture UTOPIA examines the idea of Australia as a modern paradise through the lens of our complex history of immigration.
Bradley Vincent, Curator – Public Art & Outdoor Programming, is responsible for bringing great art into our outdoor spaces. He told us:
‘We might instantly recognise the giant, colourful letters of Sam Cranstoun’s UTOPIA. Riffing on Ken Done’s iconic Expo ’88 “Australia” sign, Cranstoun’s work appears playful and celebratory. It’s all optimistic colours and confidence, but below the surface is a more complex examination of Australian identity and national mythmaking.
‘Brisbane-based, Cranstoun makes work which often reflects on historical figures and events as a way of examining how our society is shaped. Working across many different media he asks how we might visually reflect or comment on our history.
‘UTOPIA examines the idea of Australia as a modern paradise through the lens of our complex history of immigration. Cranstoun takes the story of Greek migrant Dr Constantinos Doxiadis who, despite a decorated public service and academic background, found his qualifications unrecognised and his skills un-utilised in the climate of 1950s Brisbane. After several years without success at work Doxiadis returned to Greece only for his career to flourish again.
‘UTOPIA asks us what it means to reject the skills and knowledge of generations of Australian migrants. Ringing as true now as it did then, UTOPIA asks: if Australia is a Utopia, who is and isn’t it for?
‘And hopefully, Cranstoun seems to say: If there is to be a Utopia, it will be one made up of the knowledge, skills and dreams of all the people who live here.’
You can see UTOPIA by Sam Cranstoun at HOTA until 8 Nov.