Visit ‘Tanderrum (inverted plinth)’ – a new artwork by Taungurung artist Steven Rhall in Edinburgh Gardens
Sunday 10 July 2022
Tanderrum (inverted plinth) responds to the Wurundjeri Country land on which it stands, within an area now known as Edinburgh Gardens.
Inspired by Piero Manzoni’s Socle du Monde (1961), the relationship of the artwork to the plinth and the surrounding gardens, subverts the colonial history and associated power structures inherent in monuments and memorials. By reflecting the plinth back on itself, Rhall upsets the authoritarian function of the existing pedestal, that was originally made to hold up a statue of Queen Victoria, simultaneously privileging the ‘Country’ at the plinth’s base.
Connecting the sculpture to the base are four cylindrical supports that physically bridge the two objects and act as a conduit of their relationship. The gesture of shrinking and inverting the colonial pedestal undermines everything this represents – Western modes of marking, memorialisation and assigning value. Instead, it directs the viewers’ focus back to the earth beneath it and the Aboriginal land on which it has been installed.
The works monumental vertical form strongly asserts the artist’s intention, and articulates First Nations Peoples’ identity, resilience, strength, self-determination and connection to Country and the land. The artwork enables space for First Peoples and the wider community to come together on Wurundjeri Country, encouraging dialogue around the history of ‘site’ and place.
The oche colour of the work’s main surface symbolises the earth. Granite and gilded-gold feature panels on each side directly reference the geology of south-eastern Australia. The concentric diamond shapes are designs that represent south-eastern Australian Aboriginal cultural practices. The holes at the top are a nod to Waa the Crow and introduce a post from which Waa watches over Country. In Aboriginal culture the crow or raven is an ancestral spirit known for its intelligence and its cunning nature. It is a trickster too, often carrying knowledge from many lifetimes. Lastly the black, yellow and red accents honour the Aboriginal flag as a unifying symbol of Aboriginal people.
Tanderrum (inverted plinth) by Steven Rhall is presented as part of the Edinburgh Gardens Plinth Program.