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“A Liberating Artwork” – Artist Jennifer Turpin on Nomanslanding


Nomanslanding, a spectacular and unique interactive public artwork that will float on Cockle Bay as part of the Centenary of ANZAC commemoration, is the ambitious work of five artists and three curators across three countries. In a new series, we’ll be delving a little deeper into the process and the story behind it with all five artists.

I’m Jennifer Turpin. Trained originally as an art historian, I have worked the past 25 years as a visual artist working in the public domain, producing site specific artworks that connect people to each other, to place and to the natural environment.

I work with another artist, Michaelie Crawford. At Turpin + Crawford Studio we are often creating artworks activated by the complex dynamics of water, wind and light.  Sculptural form collaborates with nature’s energy to become both animate and performative; creating rhythms in the city, the artworks provide an energetic nexus between the active viewer, the local and momentary qualities of the natural elements and the specificity of place. I also work with communities through creative processes on art/engagement projects.

I was invited to work on Nomanslanding by Michael Cohen from Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, who knows the work I do on and with water and other natural elements at the interface of art, science, nature, and the built environment.

The beginning of the process was terrific; a wonderful ‘love in’ at Bundanon in January 2014, when all the artists got to know each other through well-coordinated workshop exercises. A series of really interesting information sessions helped us get into the mood and develop a feel for the work together. A synergy was created very early on between the artists and the curators. The loose concept for the artwork was generated within a week of intensive workshops. From there began the long process of design development and budget realities. It was a great experience sharing these processes with artists who all work in different ways and had not worked together before. Getting to know each other through working and travelling together for workshops and site visits was energising and challenging in a great way. All together it has been inspiring and enjoyable; an amazing privilege!

Darling Harbour is in fact a very challenging site for a contemplative artwork because it is such a busy place bustling with activity. With all the variety of buildings and activities there is much visual and aural competition for the artwork. But the water links it all and provides the place with connections whilst it carries memories from the past and creates meaning in the present. The mesmerising movement on the surface, the rhythmical tide and the flow of boats past and present creates connections and a feeling of universality beyond place. These were the qualities of the place that we artists picked up on to use as a starting point for the floating contemplative artwork.

For Australia, I think Nomanslanding is a new form of commemorative art. Floating on water and breathing in and out on its surface, the architecture and choreography of Nomanslanding is poetically and metaphorically powerful. Most of our commemorative architecture/sculpture is very solid and weighty and still. Nomanslanding is buoyant and weightless and its form slowly and rhythmically transforms itself. With such fluidity and flotation it provides the audience with a visceral, sensorial experience that immediately takes them out of the everyday world tied to gravity into an otherworldly space, more reflective and deep and freed from constraints. For me it is a liberating artwork that provides the time and space for imaginative contemplation.

Thu 2 Apr – Sun 3 May 11am – 7pm (last entry 6:30pm)
Cockle Bay
Full program and getting here

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