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Furling: a large-scale sculptural artwork inspired by the nautical history of the wharf’s industry and leisure sailing of the Brisbane river and Mary Street area.

As Artists, davisthomas are an ideas-driven practice that creates artworks in a diverse range of materials, scales and locations. Primarily working on sculptural and installation based projects for public spaces, each commission is based on a discovery process that entwines the historical and current social, physical, and environmental elements – the context of the site, into an artwork.

Through this methodology davisthomas create artwork that is in-and-of that place. A key element of this process is the semiotics of materials and how they, when combined with the physical form of the work, can engender a feeling, story or idea to the audience. Seeking out materials that offer creative opportunity; that are visually fluid enough to move beyond their everyday purpose, and importantly are robust and low maintenance. As such Corian® has been on the list for a few years.

The opportunity to work with Corian® arrived in the artwork Furling. As the name suggests Furling is a work that captures the flip and flow of a sail as it is either gathered in – when bringing a boat to harbour, or released – as a ship makes sail for a new destination. Capturing the implied kinetic energy of this transitory moment required a unique type of material that could give a high degree of freeform manipulation, to create complex fluid curvatures, whilst not needing an overly intricate framework to hold the shape. Through research and intensive conversations with CASF Australia, regarding the material specifications and capabilities davisthomas decided on Corian®.

Each of the two sculptural wall elements are 9M in height by 1.5M at their widest point. The structural base of stainless steel props and marine ply ribs, are inspired by yacht rigging; being both structurally sound for purpose, and supporting the nautical visual vernacular of the work. Laid over the top of this structural skeleton is 12mm Venaro White Corian® cut into 45mm wide planks. The planking was inspired by traditional canvas sail making, the planking of wooden boat hulls, and as a means to create the visual linear effect that engenders dynamic movement in the work. Using an imported sheet size oven from America, the thermoforming process began. The full build time was three months. The davisthomas  team had never used Corian® before – so this was a leap of faith and a lot of watching ‘how to’ videos.

Davisthomas found Corian® to be a fast, responsive, robust, and indeed a fluid material to use. The thermo-properties of Corian® allowed an ease and speed of shaping. Additionally the ease of fixing, gluing and finishing (buffing rather than additional protective coats) meant that the vision of the artwork was not overtly impacted upon by the mechanics of making. The long linear visual lines through butt end gluing were achieved, whilst fixing the Corian® to the frame through stainless steel decking screws, via oversized pilot holes. Furling demonstrates the standard up/down manipulation, as well as left/right movement, and subtle twists in the Corian® planks. These movements where made possible via the designed-for-purpose jig, that whilst being totally manipulatable on all these axis, held the Corian® in the exact manipulations whilst it cooled. Thus giving the artwork the visual energy it needed.

“Corian® made this project possible. The flexibility of the material’s thermoforming capabilities combined with the near seamless bonding capability of the joint adhesive allow us to produce 9m linear planks that flow and glide up the side of the wall. Creating a majestic, dynamic sculptural artwork with a high quality finish. Furling was our first experience of this material. We feel that we have only just touched on the creative possibilities that Corian® offers, and are already undertaking studio experiments exploring new forms and material combinations.” Lubi Thomas

Project Details

Design By: Lubi Thomas and Adrian Davis of davisthomas
Fabrication: davisthomas
Photography: davisthomas
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