We are delighted to have won the City of Port Phillip Council Design and Development Awards 2020 for ‘Integrated Art’ with ‘Opera’ by Matthew Harding.
This category recognises public art which is innovative and assists a rethink of the public domain.
‘Opera’ by Matthew Harding represents an exploration of the organic and the feminine as a metaphor for the elegance and fluidity of the Opera architectural facade. ADA Consulting led the realisation of this sculpture with the dedicated support of developer Golden Age, Time and Place and fabricator Robert Hook.
Opera is a landmark building, designed to return beauty and art to architecture. Situated at 450 St Kilda Road along Melbourne’s famous tree-lined gateway, Opera’s glass façade stretches over a form that curves and arcs elegantly skywards, paying homage to the grandeur of the boulevard’s aristocratic address.
450 St Kilda Road is a multi-residential apartment building that aims to build on the grandeur and decadence from the era that St Kilda Road was a revered address. Allowing the building to be a more sculptural contemporary interpretation of the vitality and movement evident in St. Kilda Road’s glamorous past amongst the current rigid forms of St. Kilda Road.
In the 1860s, St Kilda was a major bay side resort village. St Kilda Road was a main arterial connecting it with Melbourne, and was planned as a wide European-style boulevard to accommodate horse-drawn traffic. Grand mansions of grandeur and noble significance were built along St. Kilda Road.
The site is located in a prominent zone along St Kilda Road, contributing to the gateway experience for the Southern approach to the CBD.
Next door to Airlie mansion, the vision for the project is to draw on the nostalgic glamour of it. Built in 1891, Airlie was eminent during a time when St Kilda Road was revered as the address of Melbourne’s wealthiest aristocrats and where some of the city’s most grandiose residential real estate was developed.
‘Opera’ can be enjoyed by both passers by and the residents alike. It can be viewed from the front of the property by the public on the street, both on foot and in vehicles. The majority of audience members are the residents of 450 St Kilda Road who will engage with this artwork on a daily basis and throughout the year.
Matthew Harding successfully integrated a beautiful sculpture into St Kilda Road. His design sought to express this relationship to the historical context and rapour of the site, and therefore takes a more sculptural and contemporary shape to create a landmark which exudes a distinctive, elegant and alluring flavour. The shapes of the sculpture express figurative gestures; the sensual folds, pleats and ripples of fabric. Due to the unforseen and untimely death of Matthew Harding, the sculpture was fabricated and realized by Robert Hook in Matthew Harding’s honour. To our knowledge it is the last work ever designed by Matthew Harding. Made from aluminium and polished stainless steel, Harding’s sculpture stands at nearly 5 meters tall.
Harding was an innovative Australian artist engaged in a diverse practice of sculpture, public art and design. Matthew pushed the boundaries of materials and process producing sculptural forms and design pieces in stone, wood, metal, glass and ephemeral media. Harding has left an extraordinary legacy of work in Australia and around the world.
MARS Gallery Director and project’s art consultant, Andy Dinan said, “It has been a rewarding experience working together with the City of Port Phillip council planning departments and arts units, the property developers, architects and the incredible artist Matthew Harding to integrate art into the local community of Port Phillip. This work will enliven and bring some dynamism to the area for years to come.”
Since 1998, The City of Port Phillip Design and Development Awards has encouraged and celebrated design excellence in urban design, architecture, heritage, public space, sustainability, interior architecture and urban art in the City of Port Phillip.
Project: Opera Urban Art
Client: Time and Place – Golden Age – Deague Group
Site Location: 450 St Kilda Road, Melbourne VIC
Artist: Matthew Harding (1964 – 2018)
Fabricator: Robert Hook
Date of Completion: February 2019
Size: 480 x 163 x 145 cm