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Elsternwick Park South public art: Spirit of Place

The Elsternwick Park South public art commission has been awarded to Bent Metal for Spirit of Place, a sculptural work inspired by its parkland setting. The immersive sculpture will be installed in the south-east corner of Elsternwick Park South in May 2021.

Artist's render Elsternwick Park public art Spirit of Place

About the artwork

With its tall iron reeds, Spirit of Place will be a cultural landmark and distinctive part of the park experience, encouraging social interaction and quiet reflection in park visitors who can experience the piece from an enclosed rippled iron bench.

The artwork commemorates the park’s natural and social history and recognises the traditional owners of the land on which it sits, the Yalukit Willam clan of the Boon Wurrung. 

Bent Metal’s master blacksmith, David Wood, explains: “Its form is drawn from the phragmite australis reeds which are within the park and indigenous to the local area. The artwork frames the landscape, changes colour with the seasons, and plays with light and shade.” 

The artistic brief for the Elsternwick Park South public art commission was prepared following community consultation in September/October 2019. Community engagement was through a dedicated Have Your Say webpage, drop-in sessions and flyers, which attracted 70 responses from the community. The commission brief was advertised in December 2019 for expressions of interest, with shortlisted submissions reviewed by the selection panel in April 2020 against set criteria.

More information about the project

Bent Metal is a traditional blacksmith and art practice in South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Principal artist, David Wood, has over 29 years’ experience in creating large and small works of traditional wrought iron. Bent Metal’s work is highly sort after by architects and designers and David has been commissioned to produce many works of public art in Melbourne, Australia and overseas, including Five Celebratory gates for the St Kilda Botanic Garden.

Spirit of Place will be located in the south-east corner of Elsternwick Park South, near the intersection of New and Head Streets, and adjacent to the New Street entrance and bus stop. 

Elsternwick Park public art Spirit of Place location.

The artwork is constructed in steel, galvanised to be resistant to all weather and graffiti, and will not rust. There will be no sharp protruding edges or footholds below 2.2 metres to facilitate climbing, and is designed to not collect water, leaves or debris.

The immersive sculpture is wheelchair accessible.

Elsternwick Park public art Spirit of Place elevations.

Public art plays an important role in the character and identity of the Bayside municipality, and promotes our rich natural, cultural and urban heritage. 

Spirit of Place is the third public artwork commissioned through the Bayside Arts Strategic Plan 2018-2022, and follows ‘Summertime’ by Anne Ross in Brighton and the highly interactive ‘Bayside Ripple’ by Carla Gottgens at the Dacey Street Playground.

Since 2016, Bayside City Council has invested more than $8 million in Elsternwick Park to protect the environment, improve facilities, and rejuvenate several sportsgrounds. These upgrades acknowledge the diverse use of the park for both formal and informal recreation.