Landmark work by Maria Fernanda Cardoso to rise 11 storeys high over Sydney Streets

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Landmark work by Maria Fernanda Cardoso to rise 11 storeys high over Sydney Streets
The new mural, integrated into a new building designed by acclaimed architect Angelo Candalepas, will be the largest public artwork by an Australian artist in the Sydney CBD.

SYDNEY.- A major new public artwork inspired by the natural movement of water will be installed in Sydney’s CBD this summer by one of Australia’s most celebrated contemporary artists. Ripples and Droplets, a mural by Maria Fernanda Cardoso, spans the length of one wall of a 36-storey residential tower in the centre of Sydney. Standing 11 stories high and covering 335 square metres, the mural is believed to be the largest public artwork by an Australian artist in the Sydney CBD.

Commissioned by United Development Sydney as part of the Castle Residences mixed development at 116 Bathurst Street by Candalepas Associates, which is scheduled for completion by Hutchinson Builders in early 2022. Maria Fernanda Cardoso has worked closely with the architect, Angelo Candalepas, since the inception of the project in 2014, and developed the work with public art curator Amanda Sharrad. While the brief has evolved over time, the result is consistent with many of the themes that have guided her practice for decades.

The artist’s design—concentric circles and spirals like ripples on a pond, also the silky thread of a spider web—reflects the broad direction of her creative career. Maria Fernanda Cardoso is fascinated by the natural geometry of the world, and this work has allowed her to magnify the sort of details that remain hidden from sight.

Ripples and Droplets can be seen above and to the right of the Castlereagh Street facade of 116 Bathurst Street, above a laneway beside Porter House. The work is designed to be seen laterally, given most vantage points will be from across the street or from beneath.

The mural is part of a series called Drawing Paintings, Painting Drawings. The name refers to a technique invented by the artist that allows her to draw and paint simultaneously. Instead of a brush, she works with a container that dispenses paint through a small plastic tube and needle, which creates droplet effects as she draws lines across the surface.

Maria Fernanda Cardoso grew up in Colombia surrounded by architecture and design. The daughter of two architects, she spent eighteen months studying architecture herself before switching to art. She has since been celebrated as an artist worldwide—from Bogotá to New York, Venice to London—for her distinctive vision and her curiosity about the hidden wonders of the natural world.

Artist Maria Fernanda Cardoso said: “When I started to make public art, I just felt at such ease. I had prepared all my life for it. In a public space, scale is very important, because most things go unperceived. The scale makes them visible. The patterns are like ripples in water, and if you look closer, there are droplets. My concept from the beginning was about painting as a fluid. That is why it has ended up being ripples and droplets.”

Public art curator Amanda Sharrad said: “This artwork is a distinctive and exceptional landmark and Maria Fernanda Cardoso’s most ambitiously scaled work to date. Cardoso delights in finding, revealing and celebrating beauty and magnificence in small and seemingly insignificant forms and forces of nature. The biophilic design of this work calls to mind natural phenomena such as rain on a web, ripples on water, growth rings of a tree—meticulously enlarged to the scale of the built environment. Changing fluidly according to one’s vantage point, drawing the eye in from the street and upwards from below, the fine organic lines of white mineral paint contrast beautifully with the surrounding architectural order and urban colour, giving the artwork a quietly powerful presence.”

Angelo Candalepas said: “There is a need for artworks on buildings to reflect the intentions of the architectural work, which is also art. We had wanted to add to the city something as strong as the Josef Albers sculpture in Martin Place or Alexander Calder’s in Australia Square—but with an Australian artist. Maria Fernanda Cardoso listened to the building’s needs and understood that the work deferred to the ancient idea of a circle in geometry, the sphere and the imperfection of pendulums in making these shapes. Her work reflects the tenuous nature of circles rather than their certainty, and in so doing it defers to nature. It has been completed through contemporary technology to appear both uncertain and permanent, at once of this time and absent of a time. It sits uneasily on microns off a concrete wall like the constellation of a thousand spiders. She leaves behind a great message about optimism in geometry, about the human ability to offer something joyous, with the arches of Castlereagh Street finding their source in this mirroring of nature.”

Hutchinson Project Manager Timothy Ferguson said: “Hutchinson has been working closely with Maria-Fernanda Cardoso and Amanda Sharrad to bring to life the artist’s vision, which is nestled off the side face of the 11-storey hotel facade under the main building’s cantilever. It has been challenging and rewarding to create and project this piece of art on such a large scale and to a detail that mimics the artist’s original concepts.”

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