REDFORD, Scott; Proposal for a Surfers Paradise Public Sculpture
Scott Redford’s Proposal for a Surfers Paradise Public Sculpture/GC Cinemas 2006 first appeared at the Queensland Art Gallery in the exhibition ‘Scott Redford: Introducing Reinhardt Dammn’, shown from 19 November 2010 to 13 March 2011. Even the floods of that summer, which forced the closure of the Gallery for several weeks, did not diminish the enthusiasm of thousands of visitors who flocked to see the show. Down the centre of the exhibition ran a strip mall of sculptural maquettes, each proposing a public sculpture based on the architecture and advertising of Redford’s hometown, the Gold Coast. In its midst, Proposal for a Surfers Paradise Public Sculpture/GC Cinemas signalled the centrality of the movies in modern mass culture.
Redford’s ‘Proposals’ series of sculptures examine and celebrate the Gold Coast as a remarkable phenomenon in late modern architecture and design in Queensland. What others stigmatise as kitsch, Redford sees as embodying a complex history and identity — perhaps the Gold Coast is the most postmodern of all Australian cities? For Redford, Gold Coast-type signage certainly signifies a particular time and, much like music, evokes memories of a particular era. This appeal to the past is heightened by texts that announce films like the modern classics L'avventura 1960 by Michelangelo Antonioni and Vertigo 1958 by Alfred Hitchcock — both explore love and loss in contexts of wealth and luxury. The second movie bill tellingly pairs Disney’s 1951 version of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) with Elephant, most likely Gus Van Sant’s 2003 film addressing unacknowledged social issues — the colloquial ‘elephant in the room’ — and ending in homicide committed by youths. Two single screenings are also listed: My Own Private Idaho 1991, Van Sant’s drama about two gay hustlers, and the Australian Coolangatta Gold 1984, recalling difficult passages of adolescence and introducing a sobering note into the prevailing tone of slick confident assertion.
The maquette’s reverse lists the qualities of place that the Gold Coast embodies, in an equally ambiguous catalogue of delights: A utopia of souvenir shops, bamboo bridges spanning murky rock pools, night clubs, ‘fabulous floor shows’, ‘bikini bars’ selling floral wisps of bathers and Hawaiian shirts through windows open to the footpath, ill-lit cabarets, over lighted cafes, indoor planting, outdoor denuding, beer gardens in no apparent hurry to close at 10, shops open as long as there are customers awake, Sunday movies, signs, hoardings, posters, neons, primary colours …
In 2006, the Gallery acquired Redford’s Proposal for a Surfers Paradise public sculpture/Paradise now 2006. Subsequently, a second work from the series, titled The High/Perpetual Xmas, No Abstractions 2008, was fabricated as a 10-metre high sculpture and erected at the entry to GOMA where it still resides, flashing neon into the night. It was included in ‘Contemporary Australia: Optimism’ in 2008 and is, to date, the only of these maquettes developed to full size. Now Redford’s Proposal for a Surfers Paradise Public Sculpture/GC Cinema has joined the Gallery’s substantial holdings of works of this leading artist, thanks to the generosity of donors Dr Michael and Eva Slancar. With his ‘Surf paintings’ and sculptures inspired by the Gold Coast, Redford’s work speaks to the shared aesthetic of two of the Pacific Ocean’s key cultural sites.
Julie Ewington, Artlines 2-2013, p.43.