A Hills Hoist on Hindley St?
SA Power Networks has partnered with the Helpmann Academy for many years, to provide young people who are trying to forge careers in the visual and performing arts find opportunities and pathways to employment.
This partnership has seen the development of public works of arts like Continuum, the iconic circular Stobie pole which is proudly displayed in front of SA Power Networks headquarters at Keswick.
The latest joint venture has seen some young artists re-imagine the Hindley Street Substation in the CBD.
While initially a mural project was envisioned, the young artists selected, Oakey, Frances Rogers and Steven Bellosguardo took the project in a whole new direction when they imagined a sculptural installation perched on the roof of the substation.
As they contemplated the site which leads towards the Western suburbs, they thought about that great South Australian invention ‘The Hills Hoist’.
Rogers says that the group was inspired by the symbolism of Australian domestic life that the Hills Hoist represents.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from, you have to do washing,” she says.
Oakey says the team was also inspired by Australia’s history of destination landmarks, with the visual artists hoping to create a distinctly South Australian icon for the West End of town.
“We kept going back to the big icons of Australia, like the Big Banana, the Big Koala, the Big Galah. We kind of wanted to create something like that in the West End,” says Oakey.
The team worked closely with the Engineering team at SA Power Networks (and indeed many parts of the organisation) to make the structure a reality. Supporting a very heavy metal object on the top edge of the substation was a challenge for all involved, and also required a considerable support structure built by the team at the Pole Yard, to ensure the sculpture’s longevity and the safety of pedestrians and passers-by.
Kylie Kerrigan, SA Power Networks Sponsorship and Special Events Manager, says it’s been a thrill to see the substation transformed by this artistic trio.
“A few years ago, the substation building was just a block structure painted in a dubious shade of mustard brown. Now it’s a real focal point for the street, both from the pavement level, and now from various vantage points around the city,” says Kerrigan.
“It has given the building a whole new visual life, beyond its very important function of keeping power flowing to that section of the city.”
Bellosguardo says the team were grateful for the opportunity to work with both Helpmann Academy and SA Power Networks on this project.
“Helpmann made this possible by finding a stakeholder, in this case, SA Power Networks, that were willing to take a punt on a group of emerging artists, who now all have a significant project to their name thanks to this opportunity,” he says.
The sculpture was hoisted into place in mid-May with the support of SA Power Networks Field Services team.
So the next time you walk down Hindley Street, take a look up and maybe contemplate the days as a kid when you swung around the backyard on the old Hills Hoist.