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Jamie North installs six monumental rock columns at NGV International
Molten slag being tipped. Detroit, Michigan. Photo: Jamie North.

MELBOURNE.- At NGV International six monumental rock columns entwined with native flora reach skywards in Federation Court. Informed by Federation Court’s bluestone architecture and its former history as an outdoor sculpture garden, Rock Melt is a major new commission by Sydney-based artist Jamie North.

Constructed from recycled slag (a bi-product of smelting iron ore) and concrete, Rock Melt consists of a group of columns of ranging height that stand up to 5 metres tall, dwarfing the viewer as they consider each towering form.

Endemic flora (local plants) play a key role in North’s practice and the artist has sourced a Melbourne native vine: the pandorea pandorana, known colloquially as Wonga Wonga, found all along the east coast of Australia. The Wonga Wonga sports clusters of creamy, tubular bell-shaped flowers with pink or red throats that may bloom in Federation Court as the plants spread and grow over the course of the exhibition.

Rock Melt is inspired by native flora growing randomly from mortar cracks in buildings and the aesthetics of mineral extraction and industrial waste, exploring the relationship between nature and architecture, decay and regeneration and the traditions of cultivated gardens.

‘Jamie North’s Rock Melt brings nature inside the walls of NGV,’ said Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV. ‘North’s work elicits an elegant dialogue between the natural and the industrial. These sculptures look ancient, like ruins, an especially clever effect given that the sculptures are in fact modelled from a bi-product of an industrial process.’

Jamie North’s Rock Melt has been commissioned as part of the NGV’s ongoing series of Federation Court commissions – which has previously featured projects by international artists including Carsten Höller, Paola Pivi and Pedro Reyes – and is generously supported by the Loti and Victor Smorgon fund.

From the opening of NGV International, designed by Roy Grounds in 1968 until its renovation by Mario Bellini completed in 2003, Federation Court was an open-air sculpture court, showcasing works by master sculptors including Auguste Rodin and Henry Moore. The court was repurposed and enclosed following Bellini’s architectural interventions yet Rock Melt playfully recalls the court’s original function.

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