Tag Archives: Meridian Foundry

The Michael Gudinski statue

With one finger, the statue of Michael Gudinski outside the Rod Laver Arena points to the sky. A strange gesture – reminiscent of da Vinci’s John the Baptist. However, unlike da Vinci’s Baptist, Gudinski is not recommending the heavens but looking at the stars; he has promoted many music stars.

The Mushroom Group (aka Mushroom Records) founder Gudinski emphasises the ‘Entertainment’ part of the precinct. The mushrooms on the base signify the Mushroom Group that Gudinski founded. Over the years, many of the bands that he represented played in the arena.

The distinction between “Arts” and “Entertainment” is part of the collective consciousness, divided by the Yarra River and built into the city’s fabric. Like the arts precinct on the Southbank, Both have extensive parklands, trains, and trams. Melbourne’s entertainment district is the sports stadiums, which are regularly used for large stadium concerts, on the north bank of the Yarra River.

When I looked, some real dry stems were amidst the bronze mushrooms. The remains of some flowers. Gudinski is still being mourned a little over a year after his death on 2 March 2021. But what will it mean in a couple of decades? Who will recognise him then? Curiously, Gudinski’s name is in stone and, on a bronze plaque on the back of the plinth that gives more details about his life and words “Forever #1”.  As if there was already some uncertainty of him being recognised.

Why does Melbourne need another statue? Celebrating music in bronze appears pointless. The three-dimensional representations of an abstract experience of organised sound seem to contradict Hegelian aesthetics. Rock now shares the money and influence with high-end culture for some odd memorials. That more of Melbourne’s music heroes are celebrated in bronze statues should be no surprise. In my review of the Mushroom Records exhibition at RMIT Gallery in 2014, I wrote, “rock music always wanted to be part of the establishment.”  

It must have been a tight schedule for the Meridian Sculpture Foundry in Fitzroy team to complete the statue, remembering that making a bronze statue is a team effort. The figure was made by Darien Pullen, Meridian’s senior mould maker and wax technician. The casting and coloured patination on the surface of the bronze statue is the work of others. Peter Morley, the founder of Meridian, has created different patinas to make Gudinski’s overcoat darker than his body. This is achieved by gently blow-torching a cocktail of chemicals sprayed onto the sculpture’s surface.

After Louis Laumen’s sculpture of Molly Meldrum, I’d heard that the next music star in the line for the memorial sculpture was Micheal Hutchins. Laumen’s staid portrait of Meldrum in his cowboy hat holding one of his dogs and his other hand with a thumbs up is the least rocking of Melbourne’s rock tributes. There are also laneway tributes to Bon Scott of AC/DC and Chrissy Amphlett of The Divinyls and a shrine to Elvis in the Melbourne General Cemetery.  

Darien Pullen, Michael Gudinski, 2022

Andrew Rogers Sculptural Sequence

Starting from zero, Andrew Rogers was an amateur painter.

One. He started making sculpture based on the human form. Nothing remarkable, the last of his figurative sculpture is a public sculpture, City Living, 1996 in West Melbourne.

Andrew Rodgers City Living, 1996

Andrew Rogers, City Living, 1996

Zero plus one.

One. Again, and again Rogers makes sculptures, this time abstract.

Andrew Rogers Rythems of the Metropolis, 1996

Andrew Rogers, City Living, 1996

One plus one.

Two. More editions of sculptures and growing complexity of techniques and materials. Becoming a full-time artist was not a big life changing decision just “something that I grew and enjoyed over time.”

One plus two.

Three. Moving on to something new, land art. He continues to make bronze sculptures, each one building on the previous work. His ‘geoglyphs’ are giant drawings with piles of rocks in sixteen countries on every continent on earth. In his land art Rogers works with local artisans and craftsmen, taking a material that they normally build with and creating abstract form.

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Andrew Rogers, City Living, 1996

Two plus three.

Five. It is getting harder to make sense of Rogers’s sculptural practice as it ranges in material and scale from small work in new materials to land art. His sculptures are a mix between ancient and contemporary materials, ancient and contemporary techniques, the extremely large and small scale and different locations from the desert to the city. But Rogers doesn’t see much difference between all his sculptures. They are all building on the same work, part of the same series of works that intersects with another series of works with the same theme.

Three and Five.

Eight. Scrolling through more photos on his iPhone, Rogers is talking about the latest edition of a sculpture that he made for the entrance to the headquarters of Cirque du Soleil in Montreal, Canada and his plans for more land art in Turkey and Peru. Talking about 420 tons of carved stone and building the roads as well as building the structures. Another version of a sculpture that has fire going through it for the fire breathing founder Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberté. He wasn’t a mystic with wild ideas, nor a charismatic salesman, he was more of a calm, taciturn, mathematician.

Rogers explains; “When I’m on a land art site I’m there seven days a week, ten hours a day, working. I’m working with lots of people. I’m just working with more people than I normally work with at a foundry but its no different. Once you have a volume of work you need people to help you create it. You can’t do it all by yourself.”

 

Come to the Edge 1-A Rogers

Andrew Rogers, Come to the Edge, 2015

Out to the foundry floor he shows me couple of elegant, dynamic stainless steel sculptures he spends 90% of his time doing this kind of work. Another sea shell form in stainless steel that is being polished. Rogers explains some of difficulties of casting curved forms in stainless steel. “State of the art stuff,” He says but basically it is art bling for the conspicuous consumers.

On the desk in the small office of Meridian Foundry in Melbourne, where I am interviewing Andrew Rogers, there is the form of a bisected sea shell cast in a polymer and covered in a thick coating of crushed lapis lazuli, a sample of a new technique that Rogers is trying for his Molten Concept series. The series involves the same sea shell form each made in different materials.

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A test sample for Andrew Rogers

The sea shell form is also the form of Rogers’s third ‘geoglyph’, Slice (2003) in the Avara Desert in Israel. A vertical slice through a sea shell drawn horizontally with walls of stones on land that was once part of an ancient seafloor.

“Land art is an ancient form of art but I think my land art is fairly contemporary in its approach and ideas. The methods probably aren’t that different. Some structures are only able to be made with a contemporary approach, with contemporary equipment but the structures aren’t that much different to ancient structures. The ideas behind whether it is a contemporary bronze or stainless steel is the same idea behind the land art. They are all reflecting similar ideas. So you can take the mathematical Fibonacci Sequences, which is an ancient idea but I have made a contemporary bronze and I have created it in a number of contemporary stone structures around the world.”

In the Fibonacci Sequence the next number in the sequence is the sum of the two previous numbers. It is a natural model of growth and progression with each step building on the previous steps. The patterns of nature expressed in numbers, like the slice through a sea shell.

A sequence or a pattern only makes sense as a progression not in isolation. The later numbers don’t replace the earlier numbers but continue to build on them. New art doesn’t replace old art but builds on it in a continuing sequence of art making. And so on and the numbers and types of Rogers sculptures continues to grow larger. He currently has over fifty massive stone structures. We see by recognising patterns in time and space. The Fibonacci Sequence is a both way to understand some of his sculptures and also Rogers’s whole oeuvre.


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