Under the mentorship of multidisciplinary artist Dave Court, four emerging artists have brightened a circuit of Stobie poles in a northern Adelaide suburb.
For artists Chloe Noble, Danny Jarratt, Miriam Sims and Neville Cichon, the Stobie Pole Project has been an inroad into public art.
As part of the Helpmann Academy and SA Power Networks collaborative project, the four emerging creatives were commissioned to produce a series of public artworks under the guidance of prolific local artist Dave Court.
As well as embracing the iconic Stobie pole and developing the artists’ professional experience, the Helpmann Academy hoped the project would “contribute to the colour and vibrancy” of Angle Park, where the artworks would be installed.
Dave, who is overseeing the initiative, says this was his first time mentoring a project of this scale. He said that because of the nature of mural painting and public art, the mentorship involved workshopping various “little things” that fall into the “you don’t know until you do it” category.
“It was more about talking through ideas and best ways to execute that technically, in terms of materials to use or techniques,” he explains.
A string of Stobie poles surrounding The Parks Library in Angle Park are now testament to this “back and forth” of ideas.
Dave hosted mentoring sessions at his studio and walks around Angle Park throughout the six month-long program.
“If I’m making a mural in a place, I kind of make everything specific to that area and use that as an avenue to learn about the space, the history and the people as much as possible, and kind of create a conversation in that way,” Dave says.
In developing the designs for the Stobie poles, the artists drew inspiration from the community, as well as the natural and urban environment – including the steel and concrete structures themselves and the power lines connecting them.
Although ubiquitous in South Australia, Stobie poles are a rare sight outside the state. Through the Stobie Pole Project, Danny discovered – to his surprise – that the poles are also manufactured locally, in Angle Park.
Public art is a way of drawing our attention to these commonplace objects, by bringing “life and energy” to community spaces, Dave says.
Exhibiting art outside of formal settings like galleries – which can be inaccessible for many – is also a kind of “community outreach”, he says.
“Public art meets people where they are,” Dave says.
In line with this ethos, Dave took a collaborative and informal approach during the Stobie Pole Project.
Although all four emerging creatives had “different approaches” – from painting and photography to performance and sculpture – part of the process, for Dave, was encouraging the artists to develop “a crossover of different styles and techniques”.
“It’s been a journey – from wandering around, throwing around ideas and chatting through things, and seeing them develop and come to life,” he says.
Danny, who had never collaborated with another artist before, worked on the design for a set of poles with fellow participant Chloe Noble.
This experience led to the duo’s decision to apply for future public art projects as a team, says Danny, who is interested in the intersection of queer theory, video games and painting.
The Stobie Pole Project – which is also supported by the City of Port Adelaide Enfield and Post Office Projects (POP) Gallery+Studios – is significant in terms of “hands-on experience” for artists delving into public art, Dave says.
“It is the kind of thing that is kind of impossible to teach in theory,” he says. “You have to go out and do it, and feel it, and see how it works to be able to have the experience and confidence to take on a big project on your own.”
Chloe agrees, saying the “invaluable experience and advice” Dave offered would have been challenging to gain elsewhere.
As for his own Stobie pole-related artistic forays, Dave remembers a mural he painted in Bowden last year, which started a bit of a “conversation”.
“Someone came and did some mosaicking on the Stobie pole next to it and kind of tied into it in a cool way,” Dave says. “And then I think they painted the stop sign pole as well – I don’t know if they got permission for that – but they painted that in a nice blue to match the mural.”
Artists Chloe, Danny, Miriam and Neville took part in an artist talk, hosted by POP Gallery curator Eleanor Scicchitano at the Parks Library on 22 October, which was followed by a guided tour of their work.
The artwork can be found on Stobie poles surrounding the Parks Library, and is expected to remain in place for two years.
As part of a separate initiative, community members wanting to brighten up their local Stobie poles can apply via SA Power Networks.
Words: Anisha Pillarisetty
Image: Left to right – Neville Cichon, Chloe Noble, Dave Court, Danny Jarratt and Miriam Sims, supplied