Diverse artists leave their mark on I AM sculpture

June 24, 2021 BY

ArtGusto contributor Christian den Besten, Geelong MP Christine Couzens, Geelong deputy mayor Trent Sullivan and artist Mark Cuthbertson with the I AM moulds. Photo: JAMES TAYLOR

A NEW public sculpture for Geelong that will celebrate people of all abilities is about half complete.

More than 80 people living with a disability contributed to the design for the sculpture through a series of workshops delivered by the city.

The City of Greater Geelong engaged Inverleigh sculptor Mark Cuthbertson to lead a small creative team, including Robert Croft, Hannah Wilkinson and George Macaronis, to come up with the final design.

The final result is I AM – a large-scale interactive artwork constructed of concrete and featuring engraved text and surface detailing inspired by participant responses in the workshops.

Drawing reference from powerful political and pop culture statements such as the 1968 Memphis black sanitation workers slogan “I am a man”, and Helen Reddy’s 1971 anthem I Am Woman, the work celebrates the empowerment of diversity in society.

The work invites the viewer to be part of the work, and to proclaim, “I am…”.

This interactive element allows the work to be modified for each individual and photographs will be gathered to form a collective voice expressing, “We are …”.

The artwork will be relocatable, ensuring wide access to all community members, and the realisation of the artwork in a number of settings.

The project is delivered in partnership with VALID and ArtGusto, with funding from the Victorian Government.

Geelong deputy mayor Trent Sullivan and Geelong MP Christine Couzens visited Mr Cuthbertson’s workshop in Inverleigh last week to see the progress of I AM, including the polystyrene moulds that will be used to cast the concrete letters.

 

Mr Cuthbertson said the work was about 50 per cent done and was earmarked to be launched in the first week of September, and he was especially pleased 85 different artists had left their own marks on the sculpture.

“To genuinely take contributions from a big, broad section of the community has given it reverence and legitimacy; it’s really quite great,” he said.

“This one has come together beautifully – I don’t feel like it’s been compromised, every stage has added to the design.”

Cr Sullivan thanked the Victorian Government for the funding and acknowledged the high level of community participation in the workshops.

“I thank Mark and the artistic team for leading this project, as well as the many people living with disabilities who provided valuable contributions to the final design,” he said.

“It’s exciting to see this work underway, I am looking forward to seeing the final result standing proud in various locations across Greater Geelong.”

Ms Couzens congratulated the all abilities advocates, and Mr Cutherbertson and his team, who collaborated on the significant artwork.

“We must reflect all in our community, and I look forward to seeing this work exhibited prominently around Geelong,” she said.

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