Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the City of Melbourne selected Mr Owen following an extensive national open call.
“Melburnians, workers and students told us they want new public art to be a main feature of the new University Square,” the Lord Mayor said.
“I am pleased to announce that Robert Owen will lend his creative vision to what is sure to be an inspirational public art program for the transformation of one of Melbourne’s oldest public squares.
“We are working in close partnership with the Victorian Government and the University of Melbourne on this ambitious project to transform University Square into a larger and greener open space within the heart of Carlton’s education precinct.”
Mr Owen will develop a conceptual framework to inspire and guide the commissioning of public art for University Square and will work with other artists to develop an integrated plan before detailed design work begins. His vision references the site’s rich and diverse associations, the process of transformation and change and the transformative journey of education.
Chair of the Arts, Culture and Heritage Portfolio Councillor Rohan Leppert said the art program would make a significant contribution to Melbourne’s flourishing public art scene.
“This work will be Council’s first project under our bold Public Art Framework 2014-17 which strategically links city design and public art programs to deliver high-quality public art that connects to its landscape,” Councillor Leppert said.
“I look forward to seeing how Robert will interpret this important site to enable artists to create new art that is sure to delight the community and enliven this important public space.”
The Public Art Curatorial Adviser will be guided by the University Square Master Plan, community engagement reports and historical timeline. In addition to new artworks, University Square will be revived with 253 new trees, 8700 square metres of expanded public open space, more activities, a water terrace, and a biodiversity corridor.
The Metro Tunnel project will improve public transport access to University Square when the new underground Parkville Station is built on its doorstep at Grattan Street.
Robert Owen welcomed the opportunity to guide the creation of new public art in the historic square.
“I am delighted and privileged to have the opportunity to work with some of Australia’s most significant artists in the redevelopment of Melbourne’s University Square”.
Robert Owen - BiographyRobert Owen has more than 40 years’ experience as an artist, curator and educator with over 30 solo and 50 group exhibitions in Australia and overseas. He has curated 13 exhibitions including Inland, for the Australian Centre of Contemporary Art, (1991) and held the position of Associate Professor and Head of Sculpture, RMIT University (1989 - 2001).
He was awarded a John Moore’s Liverpool Exhibition 7 UK prize (1969) and represented Australia at the 38th Biennale of Venice (1978). Owen has received major design awards for public commissions including Webb Bridge, Melbourne in collaboration with architects Denton Corker Marshall, and is represented in numerous public and private collections worldwide.
His art practice is characterised by diverse interests, linked through a poetic and intuitive sensitivity to the expressive potential of materials, space, light, colour and context. In 2003, he received the Australian Council Visual Arts/Crafts Emeritus Award for a lifelong service to the visual arts.