Cover image of the review
Cecil Hardy, Stockade 1, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, Warrnambool Art Gallery collection, purchased through the Caltex Oil (Australia) Pty. Ltd. Acquisitive Art Prize with the assistance of the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council, 1974.

Radical: Australian Abstract Art of the 70s and 80s

9 Mar 2024
Warrnambool Art Gallery (WAG) 16 Dec - 28 Apr 2024

Warrnambool is the proud owner of a big thing from a not-too-distant future. Not a ram, not a pineapple, not a lobster. Although an unintentionally big thing, this tourist attraction is nevertheless an icon. Floating like a satellite atop the roof of the former Fletcher Jones wool factory is a silver orb that was once a water tower. It’s visible across Warrnambool, from the train tracks to the beach and many places in between. Constructed in 1967, the Silver Ball hovers on a red tripod-like structure forty metres above the ground. It’s the perfect space-age public artwork. Designed by Ralph Jones, an engineer and Fletcher Jones’ son, the sketched plans are simple and reductive. Safety consultants working on the project even stressed the importance of a maintenance ladder being “in accord (with) the design of the tank, which will be aesthetically pleasing.” Form over function, and form over fire safety. This is what the future was meant to be about.

To read for free enter your email address.

Log in with your registered email address.

Memo can continue to publish free, quality, and independent weekly art criticism with the support of our readers. Consider becoming a Patreon supporter or making a donation.