Public Art Project


Four artists create new, site-specific works for a number of spaces around the Cultural Centre. The inspiration for each: the breath-taking escarpments of the Blue Mountains.


The intention of this work is to include the poetry of a rarely experienced natural event, one almost mythical in nature and create an ethereal doorway to the escarpment. Phantom Falls is a nebulous sculptural form designed specifically for the Cultural Centre’s Reception Lounge area by Katoomba based sculptor Michael Mandelc. The work will float within the vaulted podium space, echoing primordial shell forms, cloud, and the ‘phantom falls’ phenomena associated with the Blue Mountains. Fellow artist Judith Martinez was part of an inspired dialogue that named the work. Phantom Falls will be constructed utilising state-of-the-art acoustic metal foam, carbon fibre and polymer foams, materials that combines tensile strength, lightness, and sound attenuating qualities. Michael Mandelc is an internationally acclaimed artist based in the Blue Mountains. His formative training as a sculptor began with two of Henry Moore’s assistants, Alan Ingham and Stephen Walker O.A. In his twenty year career, Mandelc has continued to develop “within the atelier and near the furnace” driven by the inspiration of the natural world. Major public art commissions include: Qantas, Art Gallery of NSW, ST Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney Olympics and the Bondi Junction Mall’s ‘Kinetic Totems’.

ESCARPMENT ROCKS: SIMON REECESimon Reece in his studio Photo Graham McCarter

I believe the environment I live in is reflected in the pots I create … Ceramic artist Simon Reece will install three Escarpment Rocks on the Green Roof adjacent to the Cultural Centre viewing platform. In response to the site’s framed garden, reminiscent of those he has visited in Kyoto, Japan (Ryoanji Temple), Reece’s sculptures will enhance the contemplative nature of the space, reflecting the spectacular mountain escarpments visible from the site. To create the forms, Reece will use large blocks of fireclays, stoneware clays and grogged materials which will be torn, manipulated and squashed, not unlike geological processes. The forms will then be hollowed out and left to dry for at least a month before they are glazed with a recipe including wood ash, iron, feldspar and copper. The rich viridian colour of the glaze will add a striking contrast to the golden hues of the clay forms. Simon Reece studied ceramics at the National Art School in the early 1980s before travelling to Bizen, Japan in 1985 where he was apprentice to master Japanese potter, Uneo Norihide. Since returning to Australia, Reece has worked from his home studio in Blackheath creating exquisite vessels that encourage the viewer to consider the relationship between utilitarianism and aesthetics. His work is represented in the collection of Newcastle Regional Gallery and private collections in Australia, the USA and Europe. Major commissions include Becasse, Sake, Tetsuya’s and the University of Western Sydney. Photo: Graham McCarter

Nicole Welch on location


Perhaps at first glance Welch’s landscapes appear innocent, seductive even. But behind the brooding forest, misty skies and the thick of fog, the vanishing points of colonial histories await our attention. Veronica Tello, Anachronism, Romanticism and the Australian Landscape Today: Nicole Welch’s Illuminations (2012). The entrance to the Cultural Centre from the elevator will be transformed by a stunning six-metre long panoramic landscape photograph by artist Nicole Welch. The work, a continuation of her ongoing Illumination series, will feature a lit chandelier suspended above a sublime vista of the Grose Valley. Each of Welch’s site-specific plein-air photographs is the result of a 24-hour photo shoot, involving specialised equipment, considerable planning and unpredictable weather. The resulting images are, as Welch states: “reminiscent of early Australian Romantic painting with dramatic vistas of cascading light and wild ‘untouched’ wilderness.” The presence of the chandelier interrupts the scene; at once a poetic vision and a powerful comment on colonial representations of the Australian landscape.

Nicole Welch graduated with a BA in Visual Arts (Printmaking) with Honours from the Canberra School of Art, Australian National University in 1998 and is currently studying for a Masters of Fine Art at the College of Fine Arts, University of NSW. In 2011 she was the recipient of the NAVA Windmill Trust Scholarship. Her work is held in the collections of Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, the Canberra School of Art Collection, ANU, and the National Library of Australia. Based in Bathurst, NSW, Welch is currently working towards a solo exhibition at the Brenda May Gallery, Sydney, in May.

Freedom Wilson Photo by Ann NiddrieESCARPMENT: FREEDOM WILSON

‘Escarpment’ is a tribute to the abundant native plants that thrive on the edge of our local Blue Mountains escarpment. Artist and printmaker Freedom Wilson celebrates the native flora of the region in a magnificent six by three meter work proposed for the Cultural Centre’s Seminar Room. Wilson will spend a week drawing the plant life and surface textures she encounters along the ‘Golden Staircase’ walk. These charcoal drawings will form the foundation for the designs that she will silk screen on to a series of ten canvases, layering the images to “represent the diversity and change of plant life at each level of the escarpment.” Wilson will work with bespoke carpenter Timon Wegner who will hand craft the frame using Spotted Gum in a tribute to Australian hardwoods and our historical dependence on them. Freedom Wilson studied Textile Design at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, graduating in 1998. In 2003 she completed a Masters of Art majoring in Printmaking at the College of Fine Arts, University of NSW. After two years as the Co-ordinator at Ikuntji Arts Centre in Haasts Bluff, NT, Wilson moved to the Blue Mountains where she established ‘Laughing Bird Australia’ in 2006. From her home studio in Katoomba, Wilson creates a range of textiles and cards that are stocked in retail outlets across Australia, including the National Gallery of Australia Shop.

Photo: Anne Niddrie

FREEDOM WILSON: Escarpment 2013

FREEDOM WILSON Escarpment 2013, acoustisorb foam backing, canvas






SIMON REECE: Escarpment Rocks 2013

SIMON REECE Untitled 2013, glazed fireclay stoneware and local earth base material






MICHAEL MANDELC: Phantom Falls 2013

MICHAEL MANDELC Phantom Falls 2013, Metal Foam sheet – aluminium; supported by stainless wire






NICOLE WELCH: Ilumination 2013

NICOLE WELCH Illuminations 2013, large scale photograph montage on aluminium base, perspex cover