Five huge kinetic mobile sculptures of floating angels and leaves is at the heart of the new refurbished Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, opened this week by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. This magical vision was commissioned for the Royal Children’s Hospital by ARTSCAPE International and realised by Sydney artist Jade Oakley.
As children and their parents enter the hospital, they see shafts of light penetrate the glass atrium, illuminating little winged creatures as they dance and twirl in space. The 168 fairy like figures and soft organic forms hang from a series of finely balanced fulcrums, as delicate and ornate as a tree-branch. They shift mercurially, alive with colours that catch in the sunshine and splash down on to the hospital’s forecourt.
“We were given a brief by the hospital to create an organic, whimsical centrepiece, something that would inspire children and that adults could also enjoy. We’ve worked with Jade on several other public and private sculpture commissions and knew she was the right artist for this particular brief,” says ARTSCAPE director Merran Morrison. “The final result is more than a year in the making with ARTSCAPE working closely with Jade and with the hospital to ensure the project delivered in terms creatively, technically, on time and on budget.”
Technically challenging, at nine and a half meters across by four meters high and comprising five mobile elements, the work is 50 times the size of the artist’s model.
Jade’s work often replicates the organic forms of nature and for these angels, her inspiration came from children playing in nature. “The angels are crafted from photos I took of my niece leaping on the beach and babies swimming under water,” she says. “I just added the wings.”
She wanted to tap into the universal symbols of healing, nature and cosmos. “My concept for angels is as healing spirits,” she explains. “Whimsical, uplifting, harmonious, peaceful.”
ARTSCAPE handles all aspects of public art and cultural development from strategic development to hands-on site-based project management.
“We relish the experience of facilitating and project managing emerging and mid-career artists for public commissions. Many have never before created works for the public domain and require significant curatorial and project management support to translate their maquettes into finished artworks and educating them throughout this process” says ARTSCAPE director Rebecca Townsend.