In November 2015 the City of Gold Coast opened its first major public art commission: Urban Oasis. Over 50 artists from all over the world submitted concepts to respond to the challenging and rewarding site at the corner of Elkhorn Avenue and Surfers Paradise Boulevard in Surfers Paradise. An expert jury came together to narrow the entries down to a top five for further concept development and in June 2016, the commission was awarded to Irish artist, Alex Pentek for his artwork ‘Urban Oasis’.
“This idea was inspired by the area’s recent history of as one of the most diverse sub-tropical littoral rainforests in Australia, (which in some cases even grew back after it was cleared). It has been my aim to capture the imagination of the public visiting this urban oasis by depicting the contrastingly delicate impression of shield ferns that once grew in abundance here. Showing different stages of growth, their monumental scale together with a series of ground panels symbolise the importance of this heritage and our place within a broader natural order.” – Alex Pentek
Alex Pentek is an Irish artist who has a growing portfolio of national and international work that explores different site specific ideas in a broad range of materials. As well creating large scale site specific work Alex also has a gallery based practice which explores temporary mediums such as folded paper and sound performance that he has exhibited across Ireland, the United Kingdom and Australia, including Tasmania’s 10 Days on the Island festival.
With over 20 large scale permanent works completed in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Canada, long time interests in science, origami paper folding and music continue to inform Alex’s work on both practical and philosophical levels.
“I aim to create openly challenging and engaging work that also communicates on a visual, intuitive level by basing the ideas, forms and materials on my reaction to a chosen location. My experience in a growing range of materials allows me to work and think in this way. I am excited by the idea of creating work of such a scale and impact that it connects with the viewer to become a defining public icon, enhancing a sense of place and extend traditionally perceived boundaries between object and landscape.” – Alex Pentek
As part of the Urban Oasis public art commission we offered a mentorship opportunity to emerging or mid-career Gold Coast artists. Artists who were looking to expand their experience in understanding how to create works for the public realm. The successful artist was Dr Chris Bennie, also an applicant for the Urban Oasis Commission. The City is working with Dr Bennie to develop a 20-hour program with renowned Irish artist, Alex Pentek, tailored to his aspirations and professional development needs for creating work.