EF announces large public art commission

Essendon Fields has acquired a major public artwork for its new airport terminal and unveiled plans for another large scale new sculpture which will welcome 6,000 workers each day and thousands more visitors annually to its fast-growing business precinct.

Acclaimed Italian-based Melbourne artist Eolo Paul Bottaro has been commissioned to create a monumental sculpture inspired by the mythological figure of Atlas – the Titan of Greek mythology – who was fated to bear the weight of the universe on his back.

The new sculpture will stand at a height of 5 meters and weigh two tonnes. It will be hand-cast bronze figure of a crouching man, who holds aloft an enormous sphere on his shoulders.

This powerful work, set to be completed before the end of this year, will be situated in the forecourt of the Hyatt Place Hotel at Essendon Fields, further enhancing the precinct’s impressive commitment to urban regeneration and supporting the work of contemporary living artists.

Essendon Fields CEO Brendan Pihan said the Atlas sculpture represented the ongoing commitment to continuing to revitalise public space of Essendon Fields and build an active and engaged community.

“Essendon Fields prides itself on creating the most inviting and stimulating environment for people to work, shop or travel. We’ve already won awards for our landscape, our architecture and the quality of building construction are setting new standards for the North-West, and now we are investing heavily in public art,’’ he said.

“Essendon Fields has become more than a location, it’s become a destination in its own right,’’ he said.

“We are excited about this new sculpture. Atlas embodies human endeavour and resilience, and resonates with Essendon Fields entrepreneurial spirit. We attract businesses that share this aspiration and pride ourselves on being a place where anything is possible. Our vision is to create Melbourne’s most dynamic business environment and a world-class precinct for thousands of workers,’’ Mr Pihan said.

The Atlas sculpture is the third project and second commission at Essendon Fields from artist Eolo Paul Bottaro. His first piece created specifically for EF takes pride of place in the Hyatt Place Event Centre. Titled Udepata – The Gathering Place, the fresco was inspired by the Ellery Big Hole in the Northern Territory and is one of Australia’s only buon frescos using traditional methods.

In June 2019, Essendon Fields Airport acquired another of Bottaro’s acclaimed works, Pactolus, an egg tempera  and oil on linen that depicts Victoria’s iconic NGV as the backdrop of a scene depicting King Midas turning his daughter to gold.  The piece was completed in 2011 and exhibited at the Melbourne Art Fair in 2015, also featuring on the front page of The Age Newspaper that same year. It now lives permanently in the entry to the new airport terminal for passengers and visitors to enjoy.

These acquisitions demonstrate Essendon Fields’ Directors further commitment to provide a platform for contemporary art through the patronage of public art, with the forthcoming Atlas sculpture creating a centrepiece for their future vision.

“This is a very exciting new commission by Essendon Fields, part of its strong commitment to Australian art and an investment into quality artwork for future generations to enjoy,’’ Eolo Paul Bottaro said.

“Inspired by classical mythology and 20th century sculpture in both form and content, Atlas will present a compelling meditation on the human condition, and the power of art to contribute to the identity of place. It will represent resilience and endurance,’’ he said.

Unlike many large contemporary three-dimensional works destined for public spaces, Atlas will be sculpted by hand and the figure cast in bronze, following the tradition of great figurative sculptures throughout history. The spherical object he bears aloft will be created from hand-formed and molded copper sheeting.

In total, Atlas will be 12 months in the making and Paul will work on the sculpture in one of Essendon Fields’ original aircraft hangars before the sculpture is moved to Hyatt Place. He will be keeping the community updated on progress of the sculpture in the hangar via social media.

Pactolus is available to view daily from 6am – 9pm during EF Airport Terminal opening hours.

Udepata – The Gathering Place can be viewed by appointment via Hyatt Place Event Centre.