EF invites contributions to public art project

In 2019, acclaimed artist Eolo Paul Bottaro was commissioned to create a major public sculpture for Essendon Fields’ thriving business, aviation and community precinct, and create a new artistic landmark for Melbourne.

In researching the project Bottaro was compelled by the unique history of Essendon Airport which served for many years as an international airport, playing an important role in migration and the development of Melbourne’s unique multicultural community. His own parents arrived from Sicily in the 1960s via the airport, carrying with them their hopes for a new life, along with the emotional burden of leaving their old lives behind.

Bottaro sought a subject for the sculpture that would be both monumental and visually arresting, and settled on Atlas, the Titan of Greek mythology who was condemned to carry the weight of the heavens on his shoulders. It’s a powerful tale of endurance through adversity that has circulated since ancient times. The impressive sculpture was hand-cast in bronze and stands at a height of 5 meters, weighing in at over two tonnes.

Now, as Essendon Fields prepares to launch its new sculpture and celebrate a centenary of aviation at Essendon Fields Airport, the theme of endurance has become even more relevant to our collective experience. In the three years since Atlas was commenced, the pandemic has changed the world irrevocably. And while the full impact of this global experience continues to unfold, hope is on the horizon, and a new Essendon Fields initiative aims to capture an archive of these unprecedented times.

Essendon Fields is providing an opportunity for members of the local community, and more broadly Australians from all backgrounds to document their personal experiences of the past 21 months and place them within a time capsule, to be sealed within the orb of the Atlas sculpture itself. This might take the form of a video, letter, drawing or photograph.  Here within the sculpture it will remain for the next 50 years, to be opened in 2071 on the 150th anniversary of Essendon Fields Airport, so that future generations can gain a first-hand insight into what it was like to live in Melbourne, Australia during 2020-2021.

As Melbourne’s newest artistic monument, Atlas is a fitting vessel to hold aloft the thoughts, memories and hopes of the people who call this place home. It serves as a lasting gift to the community, now and long into the future.

To submit your personal experience to the Atlas Time Capsule, please post your submission by 22 November, 2021 to:

Essendon Fields Head Office
Level 2 / 7 English Street
Essendon Fields VIC 3041

Or submit your content online via this form.

Eolo Paul Bottaro is exhibiting a survey exhibition of paintings, sculpture, works on paper, and graphics, including studies for the Essendon Fields Atlas Sculpture at Metro Gallery, Armadale from 26 October – 20 November 2021. More detail can be found here.