Artists’ Comment on the Design
Ascalon seeks to create a space of contemplation, exhilaration, and inspiration. It distils the essence of St George mythology in a contemporary, abstracted rendition that is timeless in its relevance, evoking the greater archetypal truths that permeate from his story and how these truths pertain to the individual and to society, now and for centuries to come.
In Medieval Romance, ‘Ascalon’ is the name of the lance used by St George to slay the dragon. Here, the lance is rendered as a monumental tube that emits a single beam of light into the heavens at night. It is set into a large fragmented landscape of black epoxy coated steel plate. An abstracted representation of the slain body of the dragon, this highly detailed and complexly faceted terrain has a crack running along its central axis that emanates from the point where the lance has entered the petrified, fossilised, and fragmented form of the dragon.
At night, light shines up through the crack, illuminating the luminous white form suspended above it.
The third element to the work is a billowing white cloak form that wraps and warps in a single undulating plane around the lance. It is cast in white epoxy coated hybrid composite, and despite its large dimensions, holds an ethereal lightness alongside its elemental power.
The form is an abstraction of St George on his steed and also references the recurring cloak form that features in many depictions of St George across Western art history, usually operating as a field similar to a halo or angel’s wings. The form aims to evoke a sense of righteous power and victory over a force of darkness and oppression.
The form of Ascalon has been developed and modelled in a digital environment in collaboration with New York-based architect Eldad Lev, allowing for a seamless ‘press play’ transition to fabrication using the latest in 3D printing and digitally controlled sculpting machinery.
Perth-based structural engineering firm Capital House, who were behind the Kings Park Suspension Bridge, are the project managers of the Ascalon fabrication and site build, and they have, amongst other things, designed a customised dampening system to tune the form to the specific wind conditions of the site.
Profile of the Artists
Marcus Canning and Christian de Vietri received their first art schooling in Perth – Christian at Curtin University of Technology, Marcus at the UWA School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Fine Arts. They first collaborated in 2001 when Marcus curated Christian’s work (in)security as part of Tactical Intervention Strategies (T.I.S) at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. It was a work that required 50 uniformed security guards to attend the opening of the exhibition – Christian thought of the idea, and Marcus hired the guards.
Since then, both artists have exhibited in the annual national survey of rising talent, Primavera, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, and around the world across various media including video, projection, installation, event and conceptual works alongside consistent sculptural practice.
Christian de Vietri is currently based in New York. He has been working independently as an artist since 2000 and has exhibited his work internationally. His works came to prominence during the National Sculpture Prize at the National Gallery of Australia (2005), and many are now held in major collections around the country.
Other recent exhibitions have been held at Goddard de Fiddes Gallery (2005, 2006, 2007), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney (2006), the TarraWarra Museum of Art (2007), the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane (2008), and the Art Gallery of Western Australia (2009).
In 2003, Christian received the Western Australian Citizen of the Year Award for his contribution to the Arts. He has also received the Qantas Spirit of Youth Award (2004), the Nescafé Big Break (2004), the People’s Choice Award for the National Sculpture Prize (2005), the Art and Australia Magazine Emerging Artist Award (2006), and the Columbia University School of Fine Arts Merit Scholarship (2007, 2008, 2009).
Marcus Canning’s art practice has run parallel for the last decade with his professional appointments as a producer, director, curator, manager and designer of various cultural programmes and enterprises. His most recent exhibitions include work at Goddard de Fiddes Gallery in Perth (2009), Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (2008), Arco Art Fair in Madrid (2008), Linden Centre for Contemporary Art in Melbourne (2008), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney (2008), and YBCA Galleries in San Francisco (2007).
Marcus has been executive director of ARTRAGE Inc. since 2002. He sat on the Australia Council’s New Media Arts Board (2002–05), chaired the federal DCITA Festivals Australia Committee (2002–07), and was awarded the City of Perth Award at the WA Business News 40 under 40 Awards 2006 for contribution to the culture of Perth.