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Under Construction – Chaos and Order, 2015 – Peter Atkins

SCAPE Public Art

Under Construction – Chaos and Order was developed by Melbourne-based artist Peter Atkins for SCAPE 8 New Intimacies. Primarily serial abstract painting, Atkins’ art is often generated by documenting readymade forms he encounters in the urban environment, including road signage, medicine packets, record sleeves and train tickets. By removing all text and figurative elements to leave abstract colour fields, these become the basis of his work. Atkins has a particular interest in the cultural associations of forms that have the capacity to evoke memory, nostalgia or our shared history of past experiences.

Under Construction – Chaos and Order was designed during Atkins’ site visit to Christchurch, where he was struck by the number of directional signs in the city. The resulting work is a double-sided installation comprising panels based on lane-management road signs, many of which are unique to the Christchurch rebuild. The removal of directional arrows has left a striking geometric pattern in the familiar reflective surface, with the layout of the panels differing on each side of the work. One side is arranged randomly, engaging with the Chaos – obstacles, shards, dead ends, blockages – and alluding to feelings of uncertainty, confusion and frustration experienced by residents trying to navigate the city centre. On the opposite side Atkins explores Order, in which the panels are arranged systematically, signalling a return to routine, as well as optimism about the future. Fabricated by local road-signage company Fulton Hogan, this work uses the same materials as the signs that populate the city.

Commissioned by SCAPE Public Art. Image courtesy of the artist. Photos by Dana Harris.
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Gloucester Street, outside Cathedral Junction
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