Matthew Harding’s ‘Pipedreams’ sculpture launched in Maribyrnong

Published on 16 August 2016


Maribyrnong City Council has launched its newest public artwork – a 12 metre wide and 8 metre high stainless steel sculpture, entitled ‘Pipedreams’, created and installed by renowned Australian artist, Matthew Harding. 

The impressive sculpture, located at Thompson Reserve in Maribyrnong, compliments and highlights the entrance to the idyllic riverfront eight hectare parkland, Pipemakers Park. Not only does it act as gateway piece, it also tells a story of the area’s history. We caught up with the well recognised artist Matthew Harding to see what he had to say.

How does it feel now that Pipedreams has been launched and is well and truly in place?

No longer a pipedream in the making, this sculpture is now a reality. It has found its home and it has settled in beautifully. It is really owning the space in Thompson Reserve. It complements the landscape of that lush piece of land.

Tell us a bit about the concept behind Pipedreams.

The concept behind Pipedreams was inspired by the industrial heritage of the site, specifically, the pipemaking techniques such as the ‘steel cages’ that were used to reinforce concrete pipes – coincidentally, a similar methodology to what I use in my own sculptural practice.

Is the surrounding environment of a public art sculpture an important element?

In a place like Pipmakers Park, with such a strong industrial past, and a graceful and complex landscape, it naturally lends itself to hosting a piece of art that tells a story. Art always tells a story. There is hidden meaning in every crevice, in every choice the artist made about its presentation and form. Pipedreams is very much a site specific piece of art. When I was creating the idea behind it, I spent a lot time at Pipemakers Park, seeing what the place told me about itself. The history, the river’s influences, the people who have spent time there, it all went into the concept. The design really references the energy and flow of the Maribyrnong River and symbolises hopes and aspirations of the local community.

Naturally, we believe that the City of Maribyrnong is a very special place. What was it that attracted you to having a public art work in this area? How does art make a good place even better?

The time I spend in the inner west is pretty fulfilling, I really like it. It is growing tremendously. It has so much going on, so much life in it. Art plays a role in that definitely. Every large scale work of art has the capacity to bolster and enhance the ‘felt experience’ of a place. As a city evolves, the capacity for public art grows. Evolution, growth and change evoke a sense of appreciation and demand for art amongst the community. Art in community spaces makes people think, makes people take notice and feel. And look at their surrounds and put it all in the context, along with the art work, to really build that sense of pride of place. The Council is pretty good in supporting the arts and drawing out the strong identities that exist there and applying that to their art.

What is the secret behind the art of Matthew Harding? What do you strive for in your creations?

In all of the art that I do, I really try to push the boundaries of materials and process when I am producing sculptural forms and design pieces. I may use different materials and processes, but I always try to maintain a common theme and investigation into the experiential aspect of form and materiality. I create objects to be interacted with, touched, sat on, objects that reflect and morph; objects that have a vital and poetic relationship to the environment they are in and the people who interact with them. All of that is captured in Pipedreams and I can’t wait to see how the community reacts to it. I am so happy it is in place, its new home so people can really start getting to know it.


Word from the Mayor, Cr Cameron McDonald

This incredible sculpture at the entrance to Pipemakers Park certainly enhances the experience of visitors and passer-by’s, both day and night. Pipedreams beautifully captures and reflects the key aspects of the rich pipe making history at our well loved Pipemakers Park. Matthew’s design was the clear standout and an easy choice for the project selection project panel, comprised of key representatives from the arts community.

Pipedreams is a very complex and robust piece of public art. It has been fabricated from layers of interwoven 316 Marine Grade stainless steel rods and tubes that measure 32kms in total. The sculpture is lit by in-ground Luminaire lights to provide a gentle spectrum of changing light, enhancing the sculptures moiré patterns at dusk.

The sculpture reinforces Council’s commitment to its endorsement of quality artwork in the public domain. With the breadth of Matthew’s work in Australia and across the globe, adding this significant piece of art to the City of Maribyrnong brings a sense of significance to Council’s Public Art collection and is the perfect addition to our city’s existing thriving, cutting-edge arts scene.

Council has a Public Art Strategy that is upheld and guided by its principles – that public art can act as an agent for change, as a medium for debate, as a space activator and as a symbol of innovation. Matthew’s sculpture beautifully reinforces all our principles that are so important when we deliver a piece of art this significant for our community to enjoy for years to come.


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