Friday, 24 April 2015

Public Sculptures by Delia Prvacki | Poetry, Dance, Day in the City, Music, Night

Delia Prvacki, Dance, 2000
Stoneware, stains, oxides and gold
NUS Museum Collection, Gift of Fairmont Singapore
Installed at the NUS Museum in 2015 as a gift from Fairmont Singapore, the set of five sculptures by artist Delia Prvacki, Poetry, Dance, Day in the City, Music,and Night, was commissioned when the hotel was still known as Raffles The Plaza. Installed in 2000, they were produced for the recesses in the wall behind the hotel’s reception desks. In 2013, a change in the hotel’s interior design was planned and with the new concept, a congruent placement for the artworks could not be found. The management of Fairmont Singapore contacted the artist, Delia Prvacki, to discuss options for redeploying the sculptures. Delia proposed making a donation of the artworks to NUS Museum, a suggestion which was favourably considered by the hotel management.

Sculptures displayed in the lobby at Fairmont Singapore (formerly Raffles The Plaza)
Photo courtesy of Delia Prvacki
The sculptural grouping embodies layers of ideas and inspiration. When Delia was invited to submit a proposal for the commission in 2000, the hotel’s ambience provided the starting point for her artistic formulation. The diversity of human encounters taking place around the clock in such establishments captivated her senses, particularly the dynamic space of the lobby where lively conversational exchanges, laughter, music and footsteps melded into a lyrical soundscape. The sculptures  were conceived as an integrated composition articulating life in this cosmopolitan setting.

Delia Prvacki, Music, 2000
Stoneware, stains, oxides and gold
NUS Museum Collection, Gift of Fairmont Singapore
The hotel lobby of Raffles The Plaza sported a predominantly brownish colour scheme and in keeping with the aesthetic intent of the interior, the artist left the ceramic sculptures largely unglazed to retain the natural hues of clay. ‘In public artworks, the pieces I make are conceptually and visually coherent with the space. It allows people to relate better to the surroundings’ explains Delia. 

Delia Prvacki, Clockwise: Poetry, Day in the City, Music, Night
2000, Stoneware, stains, oxides and gold
NUS Museum Collection, Gift of Fairmont Singapore
The sinuous lines on Dance capture the graceful movements of this art form while the motifs and colour of Music reference the fluid designs on the body of blue and white Chinese ceramic wares. Poetry which takes the form of a blade of grass arching from the wind is Delia’s response to Leaves of Grass, a book of poems by American Walt Whitman. A botanical species that endures despite environmental upheavals, a blade of grass is a signifier of the resilience of life. Broad at its base and gently curving and tapering towards a pointed tip, the motif is also presented on Odyssey, a mural installed at the NUS University Hall in 2005. Among the five sculptures, only Poetry has its principal surface fully glazed to allow for swashes of gold to be applied over the body.

A preliminary study of the support structure holding sections of the sculpture
Installation, 8 April 2015
The artworks are designed and constructed in a modular form. Each sculpture comprises between four to six sections which are assembled on top of one another. As they were scheduled for installation only when furnishing works in the hotel lobby had been completed, the artist conceived of this modular design to alleviate the need for heavy mechanical hoisting aids and scaffolds. Each section was made in a size which could be lifted by hand and positioned into the niches of the lobby wall. Co-incidentally, this construction also simplified the task of transporting the artworks when they were being relocated to NUS. 

Alice Lee Plaza, NUS Museum
Installing the sculptures at NUS brought together curatorial, conservation, engineering and estate management expertise. Selection of a new site took into account the original artistic intention for the works to be lined in a specific sequence and viewed frontally. A fitting spot was identified in the NUS Alice Lee Plaza, at the water feature across the entrance from NUS Museum. Careful consideration was given to the stability of the artworks and the safety of individuals who would be in close proximity to them. The support configuration consists of a heavy base with a spine which prevents the sections of the sculpture from being accidental dislodged. For each support structure, the height of the spine, its angle of tilt and the positioning on the base are customized according to the internal construction of the artwork. 

(Written by: Foo Su Ling)

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