Peninsula Link parades its new set of pearls

NewsPeninsula Link parades its new set of pearls
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24 Jan 2022

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Melbourne’s Peninsula Link freeway has another artistic addition, with a new freeway-side sculpture unveiled.

Peninsula Pearls by local artist Manon van Kouswijk in partnership with Monash Art Projects reinterprets the design of the pearl chain and beaded necklace, comprising thirty large spheres suspended up to ten metres high.

The formation of the pearls appears to change in an optical illusion as motorists drive past.

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, partnering with Australia’s largest sculpture park McClelland Sculpture Park+Gallery.

Southern Way funds and commissions new pieces of art every two years at alternating sites along the freeway, resulting in 14 commissions over the 25-year life of the public-private partnership contract. Peninsula Pearls is the sixth in this highly-regarded series of commissions.

The sculpture it replaces – in this case Iconoclast by Michael Riddle – then becomes part of McClelland’s permanent collection in nearby Langwarrin.

Artist Manon van Kouswijk describes the sculpture as a reinterpretation of the archetypal forms of the pearl chain and beaded necklace.

“My proposition for this sculpture is that the Peninsula Link will be wearing one of my works for four years,” Ms van Kouswijk said.

“However, in this scenario it is not the wearer who is moving with the piece or the jewellery moving with the wearer. Rather, the audience moves past the object.”

McClelland Sculpture Park+Gallery Director Lisa Byrne said Peninsula Pearls provides a fitting welcome to the Peninsula for motorists.

“Manon’s work is on display in galleries and museums worldwide, and we love that we can showcase it in this way along one of our busiest freeways,” Ms Byrne said.

“The sculptures allow us to engage with the community through art and give motorists a cultural experience as they enter our region.”

Plenary Managing Director, Head of Asset Management Chris Clifton 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,” Mr Clifton said.

Peninsula Pearls was selected from more than 170 submissions from local and international artists by a selection panel including Ms Byrne, artist and McClelland trustee John Young AM, and independent curator Jane O’Neill.

The installation of Peninsula Pearls follows the 2019 commission Love Flower by John Meade and Emily Karanikolopoulos at the Cranbourne Road interchange.

About the artist

Manon van Kouswijk is a Dutch-born artist and contemporary jeweller. She studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam where she headed the jewellery department before relocating to Australia in 2010. Her working methodology is based on exploring the visual and conceptual potential of well-known jewellery forms and motifs and translating them through a range of materials and processes. An integral aspect of her practice is the framing and contextualising of her work through the making of exhibitions and artist publications often in collaboration with other artists and designers.

About Peninsula Link

The $849 million Peninsula Link is a 27-kilometre toll-free road between Carrum Downs and Mount Martha in Melbourne’s southeast. Opening to traffic in January 2013, it significantly reduced congestion on key traffic routes through Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula, particularly during peak periods. In 2010 the Victorian Government contracted the Southern Way consortium under an availability-based public-private partnership to finance, design, construct, operate and maintain the roadway for 25 years. The road opened to traffic in 2013 and Plenary took over the asset management role on behalf of Southern Way in 2016.

Chris Whitefield

Executive Director, Communications and Community

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