Natasha Johns-Messenger


Natasha Johns-Messenger awarded the Southern Way McClelland Commission 2023

Natasha Johns-Messenger

Natasha Johns-Messenger awarded the Southern Way McClelland Commission 2023

Friday August 12th, 2022

Installation artist and film-maker Natasha Johns-Messenger has been awarded the $300,000 Southern Way McClelland Commission 2023 for her dynamic sculpture project, Compass 23, to be installed on the Peninsula Link freeway in Melbourne’s south-east in October 2023.

The new sculpture is part of a unique and award-winning public art program along the freeway which is managed by McClelland.  It will replace Lover Flower (by John Meade with Emily Karanikolopolous), which will be relocated from the Cranbourne Road exit ramp to McClelland sculpture park and gallery, Langwarrin, as a part of the permanent collection.

Compass 23 involves a line-drawing sculptural proposition comprising 12-metre high simple powder coated and stainless steel geometric structures that evoke volume and dis-orientation.

The forms are based on the navigation pillars of North, South, East and West, and will be placed with these orientations in mind.  The structures with semi-circular forms have also been developed to echo circular freeway off-ramps. The cylindrical work with the slice-like shape will point due North.

Natasha Johns-Messenger says the fundamental implication of the sculpture is that we all play a role in authoring our world.

My practice responds to site: its scale, topography, light /spatial orientation, materiality and context, within an exploration of the concepts of phenomenology and perception.

Engaging perceptual shifts inside simple geometric framing, my artworks aim to question our expectations of space and three-dimensional form, utilising spatial and material conundrums to create a chasm between what we think we know and what we perceive, and to heighten awareness,” Ms Johns-Messenger said.

The commission is part of an ongoing program of new sculptures that alternates every two years between sites at Skye Road and Cranbourne Road along the Peninsula Link freeway, resulting in 14 commissions over the 25-year period to 2037.  Southern Way generously donates funding for the sculptures. After four years on public display the commissions are relocated to McClelland as part of its permanent outdoor sculpture collection.

McClelland director, Lisa Byrne, says Compass 23 will be a wonderful visual surprise for commuters to experience.

Natasha Johns-Messenger’s Compass 2023 is the 7th work as part of this unique sculpture commissioning program with our partner Southern Way.

With each new commission our local community and the many visitors to our region have the opportunity to experience some of Australia’s leading large-scale sculpture.  The program leads the regional focus of sculpture at the Gateway to the Mornington Peninsula. It promotes a local dialogue and reanimation of familiar, well-known locations in our neighbourhood.

This work will continue to fulfil the program’s aim to thoughtfully engage with our community through experiences out of the ordinary, those that inspire debate and develop awareness of sculpture.

Each day we know over 74,000 people travel past these sculptures by car. Compass 23 will once again make a significant contribution to public scultpure given its complex spatial arrangement, and I look forward to its realisation in late 2023,” said Lisa Byrne.

The Southern Way McClelland Commission received 93 entries from local, interstate and international artists, of which 6 were shortlisted with Natasha’s being the selected commission. The selection panel was Lisa Byrne, Director, McClelland; Rory Hyde, McClelland Trustee, John Young, McClelland Trustee and Melissa Keyes, Senior Curator Heide Museum of Modern Art.

Australian-born Natasha Johns-Messenger is based in Melbourne and New York. With a primary interest in perception and site, Johns-Messenger creates installations that employ body-scaled architectural interventions, optical works and site-determined film/photography.

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