Office of the Premier and Cabinet Room

Wandoo Country

My approach to the percent for art commission for the refurbishment of Hale House was to bring a part of the West Australian environment into the halls of a historic West Australian building.

The brief required the use of recycled Wandoo timber, originally the seating from Perry Lakes Stadium. Wandoo is a notoriously hard and heavy timber endemic to Western Australia. I will admit I had misgivings about working with it but upon seeing the lengths of timber, their weathered grey surfaces and the beautiful chocolatey grain, I became inspired. I wanted to use these timbers to portray the colours, textures and scale of the Wandoo bushland. In a sense, to bring the timbers full circle and become once again, if at least symbolically, a part of the landscape from which they came.

The Wandoo woodland, on the eastern edge of the jarrah forest of the Darling Scarp and the fringes of the vast wheatbelt is a beautiful, somewhat under appreciated place. Surviving on the diminishing rainfall of winter fronts as they move inland. The Wandoo has a smooth white, speckled trunk and the understorey is sparse and open. I joined the different lengths of timber in a staggered, vertilinear pattern reminiscent of the strong vertical lines of a forest. I used a variety of textures and treatments on the timbers to evoke the natural palette of the wandoo bush . The natural grey, weathered patina that the wood had acquired over time, gorgeously fissured from the West Aussie sun. I used fire to scorch some pieces as well as the application of ash to show the ubiquitous presence of fire in our forest landscape. Some pieces are machined and sanded smooth to show off the spectacular chocolate colour and grain of the wood itself. Other pieces have colours applied, greens, whites, blues and mauves and roughly carved for added texture. Brought together in fifty separate panels and hung at varying distances off the wall for more dimension, the whole piece calls out to be touched, to enjoy the sensuous textures and warmth of the wood. It is a large piece, hung between two levels, it was my intention to instill in the viewer the grandeur and scale of the wandoo landscape as well as the textures and colours and to hopefully bring the contemplative aura of the natural environment into a busy office space.

Using Format