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One by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman

One by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman

Lens with Girl

In 2015, The University of Canberra was approached by Dr Naren Chellappah, about gifting a commissioned public sculpture. The work of art should reflect key life values representing togetherness, inclusiveness and the values prized highly by Dr Chellappah.  The brief to a selected group of artists stated that the  commissioned installation will be experimental, multidimensional and will include within its design one or more of the following elements:

  • Light – interpreting spirituality. Light may be reflective, mirrored or emitting from a projector.
  • Water – interpreting life. Water should be flowing or continuous however mindful of consumption.
  • Kinetics – interpreting diversity and peace. Movement should invoke thinking, encourage contemplation, foster discussion, create intrigue, stimulate and nurture and inspire observers.

Over the following two years, a competition was launched with eight artists who are particularly known for their contemporary installations approached to participate. Several designs were submitted and a panel of academic and professional staff met to choose the winning design. With the design now chosen, a suitable location for the commissioned work was chosen giving the sculpture prominence within the campus and cultural landscape. 

Concept Development for One

The Artist,

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman is a cybernetics artist specialising in large-scale public installations. His autonomous robotic and optical artworks interact with audiences to bring about dynamic human/machine performances based on mutual feedback.

Geoffrey has exhibited in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Singapore, Denmark, New York, and London. He has shown work at the National Gallery of Australia, The Singapore Art Museum, and The Perth Institute of Contemporary Art. His public commissions include the eleven-metre-tall robotic sculpture Totem at the Perth Arena, the cosmic ray-activated automaton Readwrite at the NEXTDC Data Centre, and the interactive light sculpture Surface at the Perth Children's Hospital.

"My background in Computer Science informs on ongoing project to create automata - interactive, self-determined, expressive machines - that test distinctions between person and artefact. I seek to create works that are able to support unique, emergent, ongoing, dialogues between viewer and art object."

"I am fascinated by robot mythologies - popular stories about 'made beings' such as Pinnochio, Coppelia, and Frankenstein. My work crystallises from these mythic possibilities to create technological agents that are behaviourally free, deeply connected, and that dwell here, among us."

"In many of my works I include a reflective element - a mirror. This inclusion is deliberate, as I see every created being as a kind of mirror. The implication is that the relationship between creator and created is ultimately reciprocal. Via the precession of simulacra our creations reveal in us aspects of an 'inverse Pinocchio' – the real boy who wishes he was wooden."

Drake-Brockman has exhibited large public installations across Australia, notably many in his home state of Western Australia. His works include Surface 2016 in the Perth Children's Hospital, Luminous, China-town Northbridge, Totem, Spiral and many others. Geoff has also exhibited his works regularly at the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition, Bondi, Sydney.

Sky by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman Bubba by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman

The Benefactor

Dr Naren Chellappah OAM was born in Sri Lanka and spent his early years travelling and experiencing different cultures across Asia and Europe. His experiences led him to draw upon his spiritual beliefs which provided him strength and sustainability and a set of values for living in a diverse community.

In 1975, Naren graduated in dentistry in London and undertook post graduate studies before going onto teach at the University of Singapore.  In 1990, Naren migrated to Australia choosing Canberra as home for his family and to provide a protected lifestyle particularly for his children. He has since witnessed his family flourish in Canberra’s inclusive society. He is proud that his children are self confident individuals who understand, appreciate and respect the lifestyle choices made for their benefit.

In 2011, Naren was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to the international community as a volunteer dental surgeon. Naren feels blessed at what his life has offered and seeks to give back to the community which has supported him, through art and by sharing his human values that provided him with strength through his life’s journey. To Naren, his five fundamental vales are:

  1. Truth- encompassing a quest for knowledge, discrimination in thought and action, self analysis, curiosity, honesty and integrity;
  2. Right conduct – incorporating dependability, courage, duty, ethics, cleanliness, gratitude, leadership and respect;
  3. Love – encircling caring, sharing, compassion, dedication, devotion, generosity and forgiveness;
  4. Peace – including calmness, dignity, endurance, happiness, humanity, patience, self satisfaction, and reflection; and
  5. Non Violence – covering the psychological aspects and feelings of universal love, concern for all life, consideration of others, appreciation of cultures and religions, citizenship, social justice, respect for property and care for the environment.

One sculpture benefactor

The Work of Art

The chosen design, ‘One’, is a self supporting triangulated monocoque that splits into 3 twisting arms of stainless steel that join in axial union at the apex and base. The exterior is mirror polished with internal surfaces painted in colours that represent ochre of the land. The installation is about 4.75 metres tall and 1.5 metres wide. The design best encompasses the values held by Naren Chellappah of Truth, respect, love and peace. 

The University of Canberra would like to know your thoughts about the work and your impressions. What are your thoughts of 'One'? Contact the Art Collection Coordinator; Alex.Stalker-Booth@canberra.edu.au