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Sally Smart tapestry unveiled

22-08-2011

Commissioned by Mark and Anne Robertson, through the Tapestry Foundation of Victoria, to celebrate the Hospital's 155th birthday, Smart's Eye desire is a vivid design that provides energetic, contrasting colours and textures.

In creating this artwork, Smart acknowledges that the hospital sees a cross section of the community go through its doors, both as patients and visitors as well healthcare workers, stakeholders and volunteers, from multiple cultural and economic groups.

"In viewing the building inside and out, I was struck by the amount of great photographs and didactic wall panels that are installed which demonstrate and illustrate the history and achievements of the Royal Women's Hospital.

"I walk daily to and from my studio past the hospital and saw its total construction. I see on a daily basis the women, families and health workers who visit and work there. It is with all this in mind that I created this design: that is conceptual, about ideas of the body and its representation, an image of a figure, a female figure with an abstract shape representing an eye/a head/a mind," says Smart.

Smart describes the bands of color circling within the shape as reminiscent of the optical color paintings of the early modernist artists, especially Sonia Delaunay; these modernist roots are also in the architecture of the hospital's buildings. The eye shape conceptually connects to seeing, vision and life, human life. The circular form radiates across many cultures to generate meanings that are symbolically, spiritually, psychologically and poetically connected to life generally and human creation.

The creation of this tapestry was a true collaboration between Smart, the weaving team and the Workshop's specialist dyer, in which they worked closely together to select the right colouring and tones. Because of the hospital's subdued colours, they created an exclusive palette for this tapestry that would ensure the setting wouldn't overshadow the work itself.

Antonia Syme says, "Art plays an important role in a modern hospital environment, providing stimulation and inspiration for those using hospital facilities. The tapestry will hang in the foyer, greeting all staff, patients and visitors, and greatly enhancing the atmosphere of the building."

Eye desire measures 4.84m x 2.75m and was woven by the Australian Tapestry Workshop's senior weavers, Sue Batten and Chris Cochius.

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