Orana was created to be an expression of the land it resides on. Encapsulating the beloved elements of the land so as to acknowledge and pay homage to our community’s rich foundations. It’s for this reason that Balcon commissioned local artists to help bring the character of Orana to life – to weave meaningful threads of nature into the fabric of our community through unique artworks that would welcome discussion, appreciation, and love for the land.
One of those artists is Geoffrey Ricardo. Born in Frankston, he spent most of his childhood in Hastings before moving to Melbourne to complete a Fine Arts degree, majoring in printmaking. Geoffrey has been working as a Visual artist since 1990, when he hosted his first solo exhibition at Australian Galleries in Collingwood.
He is the artist behind magnificent water sculpture at Orana Park, called ‘The Watering Spirit’ – a continuation of his series, ‘Spirits of Time and Place’. This meaningful installation collects rain in cups on a ‘Tree of Life’ for the local birds to drink and bathe in, which strikingly encapsulates our love of giving back to the land, and those that exist upon it. While it’s beautiful to look at, it also beautifully encompasses our intention for Orana – to present a community that is nourished by the initiatives we’ve put in place, ensuring it is a conscious and connected place to live now and in the future.
We recently had the pleasure of talking to Geoffrey about his Orana Park installation.
How did this opportunity with the Orana community come about?
GR: I was introduced to Angela and Jason several years ago through Mark Frisbee from Fitzgerald Frisby Landscape Architecture, not long after I had finished installing several large sculptures along the Kororoit Creek Shared Trail in Altona North.
What inspired your artwork for Orana?
GR: The inspiration comes from my respect for people that care for the natural environment. For those that make space for wildlife. In this case it is for the birds that live around us, hence the figure holding the nest bears an open hand gesture of welcoming. I wanted a tree that, while looking artificial, could have a strong aesthetic and slight contrast to the organic look of the figure. I also wanted a practical support for birds in the form of watering stations and an inspired and very big bird bath. I am hoping that as the birds utilise the water stations, people will be entertained and given a sense of wonder and joy.
What is the message you hope to convey with your piece?
GR: Something that represents the giving and supporting of nature. A symbolic connection to the environment. Something that while being interesting will also have an element of mystery.
How would you describe your artistic style, and what inspiration do you normally draw from?
GR: A figurative expressionist incorporating social, political and personal narratives with influences of surrealism and absurdity. Most inspiration comes from watching people as they navigate their way through society. This brings out a sense of wonder, fascination and humour and presents itself as images for pictures in my mind. I try to make sense of this and myself and other people, and use that as a starting point to play creatively.
How long did it take to complete your wonderful Orana art project?
GR: I started in January, so the project took me about 6 months to complete.
You can view Geoffrey Ricardo’s larger than life ‘The Watering Spirit’ sculpture in the Orana Park due to open late September 2021. You can also visit his website to view his recent work or follow @geoffreyricardo on Instagram to see what he’s working on at the moment.
To read about our second local Orana artist, click here.