Robert Owen and Electrolight 'Falling Light'

Micron microscope image of a silver nitrate molecule, artistically altered and etched onto aluminium ceiling panels to create the work of art 'Falling Light'

Interview with artists of "Falling Light" Robert Owen & Rachel Burke, Making of Movies, 2012

Robert Owen Fine Art Services and Electrolight 'Falling Light'

Australian artist Robert Owen and lighting designer Rachel Burke have led a team of creative professionals to realise two major new works of art for Hamer Hall. The first, entitled 'Silence' occupies the new St Kilda Road Foyer entrance, while the second and related work, 'Falling Light' provides a central feature in the circle level Velik Foyer.

'Silence' and 'Falling Light' provide another layer of meaning to architect Roy Grounds’ and designer John Truscott’s exploration of geology as a conceptual basis for the original Hamer Hall. The glimmer and glitter of crystals that cover Silence are an allusion to the magic of performance, the properties of silver and the mysteries of the earth. Just as John Truscott’s scenically painted auditorium melds the theatre and layers of earth into a singular evocative vision.

Silence consists of seven geometrical sculptural forms made of stainless steel and covered in thousands of Swarovski crystals. The suspended work pulses and moves, flickers and shines, reactive to the environment and its own movement. It is cell-like, molecular, crystalline and transparent.

In the Velik Foyer 'Falling Light' emerges like an x-ray or highly magnified image of silver crystal. A cosmos of stars glitters through the perforated surface image with occasional shafts of light punctuating the undulating array.

The sculptural forms in 'Silence' interact with each other and with 'Falling Light' by responding to the movement of bodies, shifting atmospheres in the foyers and the play of lights on the Theatres Building Spire. Movement triggers an illuminated response to create a space where memory is housed and evoked, to transform space into place.

Born in Sydney in 1937, Robert Owen studied sculpture at the National Art School, graduating in 1962. In 1988, he moved to Melbourne and was appointed Associate Professor and Head of Sculpture at RMIT University until 2001. In 2003 he received the Emeritus Award from the Australia Council for the Arts for a lifetime service to Visual Art.

Owen’s art practice includes sculpture, installation, painting, photography and major public commissions. He has attracted international acclaim and major design awards for the celebrated Webb Bridge in Melbourne in collaboration with architects Denton Corker Marshall. His art is characterised by diverse materials and approaches, which are linked through an almost scientific interest in geometric form and grid variations in both sculpture and painting.

Rachel Burke is a lighting designer with 20 years’ experience in the fields of theatrical and architectural lighting design. She has worked with most of Australia’s leading arts companies including The Australian Ballet and Sydney Theatre Company, Malthouse Theatre and Belvoir Street Theatre. Burke is the recipient of seven Green Room Awards for Outstanding Theatre Lighting Design and a Helpmann Award.

Burke is a Senior Associate with the lighting design consultancy Electrolight. Established in 2004, Electrolight has completed projects across a range of genres including custom-designed artwork, feature lighting pieces and architectural lighting installations.

'Falling Light' was created by Fine Art Services, Robert Owen’s production studio with Joanna Buckley in collaboration with Electrolight. Studio assistance by Breanna Tepper, Elle Ward and Lucas Maddock. Installation by Jeph Neale and Luke Adams.

[Adapted from Robert Owen and Rachel Burke artists’ statements, 2012]

Falling Light
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Robert Owen and Electrolight 'Silence'