Kaleidoscope of light and colour to welcome visitors to Phive - Abdullah M. I. Syed

Parra News, April 29, 2022
A giant reflective sculpture, plant-inspired avatars and stories from local families will greet visitors at Phive, Parramatta’s new community and cultural hub, with City of Parramatta Council commissioning three unique artworks for the iconic building.
The works, created by three artists with strong links to Parramatta, are inspired by the city’s environment, including the Parramatta River, and cultural diversity of the community. “Phive is an important community building, so I’m proud we will be showcasing artworks by local artists telling local stories,” City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Cr Donna Davis said. “The City of Parramatta has a thriving arts and cultural community and an incredible pool of creative talent. These artworks reflect our identity and will elevate the voices of the people who call our great City home.”
Phive, Five Parramatta Square, is a multi-purpose six-storey building designed by renowned French architect Manuelle Gautraud. It will house a world-class public library, community meeting rooms, exhibition and function spaces, and new Council Chambers.
Pakistani-Australian artist Abdullah M.I. Syed’s Ripple Effect is a sculptural installation artwork inspired by Parramatta River and will be the first thing visitors see as they enter the building’s main foyer. The artwork consists of three components – a mirrored ceiling, a suspended glass sculpture, and glass-topped plinths.
As light travels through the sculpture, it bounces off the mirrored ceiling and is reflected below creating a kaleidoscope of complex patterns, colours and reflections. The ‘ripple effect’ of the artwork symbolises the process of a water droplet falling into a river. The patterning featured on the sculpture is reminiscent of mosaics in South Asian and Islamic architecture, growth patterns in nature, as well as the tessellated design of Phive’s façade.
“It’s truly a privilege to have my artwork on display in the Phive building. This site is a very important place for me, as it’s where I established my first studio. It feels like my home,” Dr Syed said.
“I moved from Pakistan to western Sydney in 2006. This community welcomed me and gave me so much love. I consider this artwork a personal achievement and a major milestone of my two-decade long art career. It is a celebration of new visions, connectivity and diversity within the Parramatta and greater western Sydney communities. “My ideas for the artwork stemmed from a conversation with an Indigenous artist friend who explained the pronunciation of Parramatta and what it means – the head of the waters where the eels reside. The idea of water is a very important aspect of the work. Throughout Parramatta’s history the movement of water is connected to life. Great civilisations have flourished near rivers and Parramatta is no different.”
City of Parramatta Council has also commissioned two moving image works that will feature on a large 8-metre by 2.7-metre smart screen on the ground floor of Phive. Artist Kristone Capistrano will document the life stories of local families in his work 101 Graham Street – named after his family’s first home in Sydney.
“I wanted to create a space for our community to share their stories. These stories will explore and touch on themes of humanity, warmth, migration and resilience. These are the stories of working-class migrants who have chosen Parramatta as a place of work and rest.”
Kalanjay Dhir’s Habit will feature approximately 50 animated plant-inspired avatars that will each have their own unique characteristics and behaviours based on local community members. The artwork will be programmed to reflect the environment and seasonal shifts.
“This artwork explores interconnectivity of peoples, place and environment through a plant metaphor. It draws on Parramatta’s history as a gathering place and Phive as a new site of gathering between the past and our future,” Mr Dhir said.
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