Guardians grace Student One in Elizabeth Street
  • Kate Beynon, Kindred Spirits Soffits, 2019. Photo: Scott Burrows. Image courtesy Milani Gallery.
  • Kate Beynon, Kindred Spirits Soffits, 2019. Photo: Scott Burrows. Image courtesy Milani Gallery.

CREATIVEMOVE is delighted to have worked with seven-time Archibald Prize finalist and nationally recognised artist Kate Beynon and her representative Milani Gallery to deliver the integrated public artworks for Student One Elizabeth Street on the site of the old Elizabeth Arcade in Brisbane.

Designed by Arkhefield Architects, Student One Elizabeth Street is a welcoming space punctuated by openings to the sky, and is a landscaped urban living room at its heart. Two purpose-built student accommodation towers are home to 901 residents who activate the arcade at all hours.

Student One CEO Tim Weston acknowledges that the Elizabeth Street residence was designed with a focus on bringing together Brisbane’s burgeoning student population with the people who live and work in the city, and that the Student One team recognises “the importance of public art as a fundamental aspect of Brisbane City Council’s vision for Brisbane and is actively working with Council to ensure its art installations positively contribute to this vision.”

Beynon’s artworks Kindred Spirits Soffits, Guardian Creatures Art Boxes, and Guardian Creatures edit (2019) are located on elevated soffits and ceilings of the Elizabeth Arcade Social Heart and Laneway, contributing to the social benefits of these gathering spaces. Both sheltered and open to the sky, both public and private, this ‘third space’ is a liminal space of rest, interaction and transition that will help develop meaningful ties and memories for both students and visitors.

Kate’s sensitive response to Arkhefield’s design clearly interprets the mixed-use nature of the Elizabeth Arcade, tying in mythical, supernatural Chinese and Japanese guardian figures that invoke togetherness. The Kindred Spirits Soffits and Guardian Creatures Art Boxes refer to forging connections, friendship and kinship, which is of as much social/emotional importance for the students living at Student One as it is for the future users of the Arcade itself.

The Kindred Spirits Soffits create a narrative path from the Elizabeth Street entrance through to the Social Heart and beyond to the Guardian Creatures Art Boxes. The soffit artworks are visualised as four parts that flow into one another: the Realm of the Gorgon Guardian (Elizabeth Street entrance); the Vision of the Sprouting Heart (Social Heart); the Lotus Sky Guardian Goddess (Social Heart); and the Ginkgo Dream and Third Eye (staircase soffit). They ultimately reach the Guardian Creatures Art Boxes at the Charlotte Street entrance.

Beynon reimagines the Gorgon as a benevolent guardian figure, while the Lotus Goddess is a contemporary version of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy, who looks out for those in need of support. Surrounded by floating lotus flowers, foliage and pods, the lotus plant symbolises ongoing renewal, with seeds able to regenerate even after a thousand years. Prominent is the Sprouting Heart figure, representing respect, understanding, and a sense of hope for the future. The Ginkgo Dream and Third Eye refer to both outer and inner consciousnesses.

Immersed in the Guardian Creatures Art Boxes, the figures of the Kindred Spirits appear alongside their allies, including the Alienne, shape-shifting Fox Spirit, and Blue Shaman. Among colourful multi-species creatures, they form a welcoming gathering. The scale details, pattern and snake motifs refer to the Gorgon’s fierce protective qualities. Recurring auspicious symbols include botanical motifs of tangerine, ginkgo and lotus plants, representing health and prosperity, cycles of life, growth and renewal.

[Art Box #7 Animation piece: Kate Beynon, Guardian Creatures edit, 2019. single channel HD video animation, duration 4:16 min ©️Kate Beynon. Artist: Kate Beynon; Animator: Rali Beynon; Editor: Michael Pablo.]

CREATIVEMOVE Directors John Stafford and Jodie Cox would like to sincerely congratulate artist Kate Beynon and animation production assistants Rali Beynon and Michael Pablo, and to thank all collaborators on the project: MILANI GALLERY – Josh Milani and Dani Milani; STUDENT ONE and El Camino Pty Ltd – Tim Weston (CEO), Nicola Middleton (Design Manager & In-House Architect), Sean Somerville (Operations Manager), Thomas Jacob (Sales & Marketing Manager); ARKHEFIELD ARCHITECTS – Andrew Gutteridge (Principal), Juergen Weigl (Project Director), Zoe Ridgway (Project Leader), Justin Dunn (Project Team), Kirsti Tenni (Senior Interior Designer); TSA MANAGEMENT – Tony Mitchell (Project Director), Tim Hicks (Project Manager), Levi Harris (Project Administrator); ICON – Julian Ferrari (Project Manager); INTASIGN – Leon Zann (General Manager), and Steve Wool (Estimator/Sales).