The slick black walls and polished cement floors of JPE Architects’ Adelaide offices serve as a solid backdrop for AC Arts graduate Steve Cybulka’s whimsical sculptural installations.
Cybulka, a builder by trade, was selected to exhibit work in JPE’s fourth-floor Gilbert Street premises after the firm sought submissions from students.
His building skills translate fluidly into his life as a sculptor working with geometric wooden shapes. As a “tradie” with an arts degree, he can now combine his two loves: beautiful design and the practicality of producing it.
InDaily spoke to Cybulka about his installation, and also to Josephine Evans, a principal and architect at JPE, about the concept of displaying student work in the business premises.
Steve Cybulka, AC Arts graduate
What works have you installed in the JPE offices?
The works consist of two installation pieces: On Sight, which covers the central floor space of the reception area, and Still Breathing, which flows up and across the adjacent, plywood-covered western wall. There are also two singular works, Syd and Bound, which are positioned at opposite sides of the office space. The four pieces share a direct relationship with each other through their form and material, which provides a sense of harmony as you move throughout the studio.
How do the works relate to the space?
The aim of the installation was to engage the viewer from their entrance at the elevator and then draw them through the reception area and onto the office spaces and conference room.
I was very conscious that the works would be viewed from several angles as people moved throughout the space, and I took particular note of areas where people would be sitting and standing for extended periods. I made adjustments in the position and composition of the pieces to account for this, and also to ensure that the artworks interacted in a way that was not jarring or overpowering of the space.
The change in light throughout the day was also an important consideration, and time was taken to observe and position the works to take advantage of this. There were also more practical considerations, such as still maintaining clear and safe access around the artworks and through the office space.
The installation work Still Breathing has no fixed design and relies on the space and the process of construction to inform the outcome of its composition. As each piece is fixed, assessments are made as to how it relates to the other pieces in the installation and to the area it occupies in the room. The aim is to create a composition that feels right in the space, without being overly obvious or formulaic. This results in a work that encourages engagement with the viewer, and one that is truly tailored to its space of presentation.
How do you feel about this experience as a student?
Having only recently completed a Bachelor of Visual Art and Applied Design at AC Arts, the collaboration with JPE was a great opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills I have developed, and also to present and promote my work in an environment outside the traditional gallery setting.
The experience of sharing and discussing my work with professionals from a range of creative fields was of tremendous value in the development of my artistic practice.
Josephine Evans, principal and architect at JPE
Why did JPE, a company that works on large design projects, decide to have student work exhibited in its offices?
We have an interest in facilitating conversations about design and the arts. Our studio is designed to enable exhibitions and workshops that relate to our work as architects, and as interior and landscape designers. It’s a welcoming place that encourages creativity and collaboration.
We enjoy engaging with fresh ideas, and student work can offer an exploration of ideas without constraint.
How did JPE make the connection with AC Arts?
This exhibition is a result of conversations with Christie Anthoney, creative director at ACA. We saw the potential for an ongoing collaboration between JPE and the ACA to explore the relationship between the arts and the built environment. I went along the graduate exhibition at AC Arts, and Steven Cybulka’s installation work was a stand-out. Sculpture has a direct relationship with architecture through form and material, and the thinking about space and experience.
What benefits does an installation like this provides for JPE and the AC Arts students?
It’s an opportunity to think differently and share ideas about our culture and the built environment. We believe that architecture and design is part of the arts community in that it is engaged in creative ideas that can have a major influence in our culture and the way we experience spaces and places.
I would hope that through this collaboration students will feel that their artistic opinion is valued, and that there is support to provide a platform for promotion. Our philosophy of collaboration extends to artists, designers, students and anyone in a creative industry that enjoys the exchange of ideas.
Galleries, after all, can take many forms.
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