'Foldout' by Esther Stewart

Lucy Feagins
Lucy Feagins
17th of May 2012
The North Melbourne studio of artist Esther Stewart. Photo - Lucy Feagins.
The North Melbourne studio of artist Esther Stewart - featuring scale model of 'Foldout' installation for QV!   Photo - Lucy Feagins.
Details from Esther's studio. Photo - Lucy Feagins.

Previous work by Esther Stewart from the 'Portable Compactable' series
Esther Stewart in her North Melbourne studio. Photo - Lucy Feagins.

I have an inkling that Melbourne based artist Esther Stewart is going to be big. You heard it here first, people. She is only young but she has such an intense seriousness and drive about her - within an instant of meeting her it's clear this lass is going places.  She's super smart and very hardworking and just kind of basically no-nonsense.

Esther completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at VCA in 2010, majoring in Sculpture and Spatial Practice.  That same year she was included in Fresh 2010 at Craft Victoria - an award exhibition that explored the best in new contemporary craft and design.  She's now making art full time and exhibiting in various group shows at artist run venues, all whilst completing her Master of Arts and Cultural Management at The University of Melbourne.

Esther is also part of new art collective  GroupWork which recently had an amazing show at Mr Kitly!   It was quite rad - some pics here.

Esther's latest project is a site specific large-scale installation at QV in the CBD - just completed yesterday!  Entitled 'Foldout', the piece consists of a large scale geometric wall mural painted directly onto concrete walls within the QV complex, and custom painted foldout seats, bolted directly into the walls... so you can sit in the artwork. Brilliant!

We asked Esther a couple of questions about this latest project -

As part of Next Wave 2012 you are installing an interactive mural in QV called Foldout. How did the concept behindFoldout transpire and what exactly will it involve?
Foldout stemmed from a previous body of work termed Portable Compactable where I explored the space between the functional and the aesthetic. My concept with this new work was to activate an unused space in the QV building. The challenge has been to transform, on a limited budget, an aesthetically hostile area into an visually exciting and hopefully engaging space.
Creating even the smallest work of art takes time and patience. Is it safe to say you need both of these things times infinity when producing large scale art in the public domain? What kind of processes and challenges have you faced with the QV installation?
It has been an incredibly extensive process. I have been working on Foldout for well over a year now. This project is part of a larger public group exhibition called New Babylon for Next Wave 2012, where the group's curators Jess O'Brien and Pip Wallis invited six artists to complete a major work in Melbourne's CBD. Fortunately being part of New Babylon has meant that I have had the unwavering support of group curators Jess  and Pip, who originally approached me with the idea of making a public work. In the interim we have discovered, albeit at times a little painfully, exactly what this process entails. We have spent hours and hours writing and rewriting applications and submissions, looking over safety plans, and liaising with the site spokesperson and engineers. Aspects such as engaging contractors, adhering to the safety requisites in the making of and installation of public works, and the challenges of large scale painting techniques have been just a few of the issues that have required managing. Then of course I have learned a lot more than I ever wanted to know about the structural integrity of unused concrete walls and the cavities behind them! In hindsight I would undertake this project very differently, but that in itself has ultimately made it so worthwhile.

Looks amazing - pics below!

The piece is sponsored by Haymes, who generously supplied paints and other materials to Esther's specifications.

Foldout - site specific installation by Esther Stewart QV Building Corner of Swanston Street and Londsdale Street Officially opening this Friday May 19th.

Foldout is part of New Babylon for Next Wave 2012.

Foldout - site specific installation by Esther Stewart. Photo - Sean Fennessy
Foldout - site specific installation by Esther Stewart. Photo - Sean Fennessy

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