CASE STUDY

DigiGlass Public Art Facade: Mandurah TAFE

A diverse range of mixed medium Noongar artworks are translated across a vibrant, 80sqm printed glass facade at the newest training centre located at the Mandurah TAFE campus. This case study reviews the project, in particular the process of translating mixed media artworks from physical forms, onto glass.

The South Metropolitan TAFE's hospitality and tourism training centre is a $9.17 million multi-faceted facility in Mandurah. Opened in early 2023, the centre is designed to deliver training in commercial cookery, tourism and events management, and provide career pathways for aspiring chefs, event managers, baristas and front of house staff living in and around the Peel region.

Designed by Hunt Architects, during the week the centre is a location for training and education, while on the weekends it transforms into a major tourism and function centre with the ability to host major events. Set within an existing campus, the building is sympathetic to it’s surrounds and patterns of student movements. Sandstone brickwork is a key material choice to tie back to the existing facility, while a large format, contemporary printed glass canopy featuring the designs of local indigenous artists and acts as an iconic wayfinding element to the building’s entry, and student training restaurant located underneath.

Cooling Brothers provide a 13.9mm glass specification built around the Digiglass printed interlayer as the decorative element. With colour accuracy of high priority for the artists, digiglass printed interlayers offer the closest colour accuracy when compared to the option of ceramic inks.

Specifying a glass selection to function as rain screen that meets structural requirements, while providing a canvas for printed glass design

Located within the new training centre is the Saltbush Training Restaurant - a live, interactive training environment critical to honing skills for the hospitality industry. The restaurant is purpose-built and allows hospitality and cookery students to build skills in a training environment, and then demonstrate their skills by preparing and serving food and drinks to members of the public. The restaurant also functions as a catering kitchen for events.

To lead students and visitors to the entry of the centre, and to Saltbush Restaurant, Hunt Architects incorporated a digitally printed glass canopy within the building’s construction that would rely on both shape and a dynamic artwork to function as a wayfinding device, and entry statement.

With the entry to the building and the Saltbush Restaurant facing due west, the dominant direction for winter rains, a rain screen was required for the entrance. With exposed edges, the glass façade had to be water resistant to avoid moisture penetration and potential de-lamination that may occur as a result.

The glazing also had to satisfy local area wind loadings, while functioning as a canvas for a commissioned artwork to be reproduced accurately at large scale.

Noongar artists Maitland Hill and Kerry Stack were nominated via the percent for art tender process to deliver the artwork for the façade.

With a depth of experience with glass as a medium for public artworks, local artist Rick Vermey was engaged to support the process of translating the physical artworks into digital files, while Art Consultant Maggie Baxter oversaw the delivery of the project.

Working in a highly collaborative process allowed for a unique fusion of styles and perspectives, coming together to resulting in a truly original piece of art that includes noticeable Mandurah wetlands types of flora and fauna. Titled “Djena Bidi Koora Koora Mila – Pathways from Past to Future" the artwork is an acknowledgement that the TAFE is on Bindjareb Noongar land. It celebrates the richness of human, animal and plant life in the rivers, estuaries, inlet, and ocean of what is now the greater Peel Region.

Project specification
Layout sketches overlaid onto shop drawings

Conceptual development and creation of original artworks

Maitland and Kerry viewed the project through the narrative of place, landing on an overarching concept of journeying down from the wetland lakes before arriving at river mouth and sea of Mandurah. The concept touches on a journey from the past into the future, and in doing so coming together and walking together – a nod to the educational context of journey and growth.

As emerging public artists, Maitland and Kerry also both run cultural awareness tourism programs in and around the regional areas of Western Australia, providing a deep wisdom and understanding into the local flora and fauna alongside their existing cultural knowledge.

Each artist initially worked across a diverse and experimental range of mediums to create the original artworks featured in the final composition. These included wood burning pyrography, charcoal drawings, and liquified grass tree resin painted directly onto a range of glass surfaces. A wide selection of artworks were created as individual pieces, with the intention of each being montaged digitally into the master composition.

Artwork photography, digitisation and sampling

The original source artworks are photographed individually by Fitzgerald Photo Imaging Lab, in close-up sections and digitally re-assembled, resulting in large files and high detailed, high resolution source digitised images. Using Adobe Photoshop, a series of adjustments are made to ensure details of texture and colour will translate as intended to the Digiglass process. Working collaboratively and under guidance from Maitland and Kerry, Rick places the independent elements together into a composite digital canvas sized at 1/10 scale.

Once the artwork is largely complete, sections are selected for sampling using Digiglass printed interlayers. DigiGlass printing is based on a CMYK colour, providing highly accurate colour reproduction from digital screen to physical sample. DigiGlass can be produced to suit two transparency options and one fully obscured solution, the final choice of transparency level varies depending on the desired light transmission.

"Brought to life using Digiglass, Maitland and Kerry’s artwork has quickly grown to be a centre of attention on campus, drawing students and visitors towards the main entry, and of course the fantastic Saltbush Restaurant. An outstanding example of what can be achieved when architectural vision is paired with a considered and dynamic artwork, and an experienced glass and glazing team."

MAGGIE BAXTER
ART CONSULTANT

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