Compass 2023, the latest Peninsula Link artwork by Natasha Johns-Messenger

Peninsula Link showcases its new compass-inspired artwork

NewsPeninsula Link showcases its new compass-inspired artwork
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Aus and NZ

Australia and New ZealandTransport

23 Jan 2024

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Melbourne’s southeast has an exciting new artwork addition, with the seventh piece in the Southern Way McClelland Commission unveiled along the Peninsula Link freeway.

Compass 2023 by local artist Natasha Johns-Messenger is a 14m-high steel pole sculpture based on the navigational pillars of north, south, east and west.

By nightfall, the semi-circles at the top of the structure are illuminated by narrow beams of light, lending the illusion that the arcs are floating.

The sculpture is part of a unique commitment to public art that sees Southern Way, the entity contracted to manage the freeway under a public-private partnership, collaborating with Australia’s largest sculpture park McClelland Sculpture Park+Gallery.

Southern Way funds and commissions new pieces of art every two years at the alternating sites of Skye Road and Cranbourne Road along the Peninsula Link, resulting in 14 commissions over the 25-year life of the public-private partnership contract. Compass 2023 is the latest in this highly regarded series of commissions.

After it was on public display for four years, the sculpture Compass 2023 replaces – Love Flower by John Meade and Emily Karanikolopoulos – has become part of McClelland’s permanent outdoor sculpture collection in nearby Langwarrin.

Image courtesy of Steve Brown

Ms Johns-Messenger described the sculpture as the latest manifestation of her lifelong exploration into phenomenology and perception.

“My practice responds to site: its scale, topography, light/spatial orientation, materiality and context. Engaging perceptual shifts inside simple geometric framing, my artwork aims to question our expectations of space and three-dimensional form.

“Utilising spatial and material conundrums, my work creates a chasm between what we think we know and what we perceive, heightening awareness. The fundamental implication here is that we play a role in authoring our world.”

McClelland Sculpture Park+Gallery Director Lisa Byrne said Compass 2023 is a bold addition to the sculpture series, which has become a popular landmark for the more than 74,000 freeway users who pass the site each day.

Compass 2023 is a towering three-dimensional presence which gives the viewer a shift in spatial orientation and geometric framing as their vehicle drives past.”

Plenary Portfolio Manager Elena Macaulay said it was a privilege to contribute to Melbourne’s public art scene through this initiative.

“Freeway art is a highly visible and memorable component of Victoria’s major road projects, and this rotating art program is a demonstration of the community benefit that can be achieved through true partnerships between the public and private sectors,” Ms Macaulay said.

Compass 2023 was selected from more than 90 submissions by local, interstate and international artists by a selection panel that included Ms Byrne, McClelland trustees Rory Hyde and John Young, and Heide Museum of Modern Art senior curator Melissa Keyes.

The installation of Compass 2023 follows the 2022 installation of Peninsula Pearls by Manon van Kouswijk at the Skye Road interchange.

Chris Whitefield

Executive Director, Communications and Community

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