The Neerim Bower Sculpture
Have you ever imagined what it would be like to be in the confines of a bower? We want the Neerim Bower, whenever you see it, or pass through it, to transport you into that world. We are hoping to inspire and move you, by means of scale, shape and colour.
The artistry of the indigenous Satin Bower bird, in building and decorating his bower, to attract a mate - those intertwined sticks, that avenue of stage, enlivened with blue ornaments, these were the inspiration for artists Phil Henshall, Christine Cochran and Keith Graham in designing the Neerim Bower.
The Neerim Bower is a large piece of public art that you will drive through, and it will form a gateway to Neerim South, the Neerim District and the Great Dividing Range.
The Neerim Bower was completed on the 10th September 2014, On budget, on time and against the odds.
The Neerim Bower
Views of the Bower by Daryl Whitaker.
Artists working on the design
View of Neerim Bower from the Path Looking to the Northwest
In 1996 Christine opened the doors of The Serigraph Gallery in Neerim South, as an outlet for her paintings and screenprints (hence the name ‘Serigraph’). Today the gallery is operated in partnership with furniture maker Keith Graham, where they exhibit their own as well as the works of mainly local artists.
Since student days at RMIT in the 1970s, she has been creating and selling art. In recent years, she has developed the use of metallic leaf in my works, which combined with acrylic on linen, and handmade papers, has a unique quality of reflecting light and texture. The ancient landscape and remnants of outback Australia and Norfolk Island have been the impetus for many recent paintings.
As an artist and business owner, she envisages that the Neerim Bower and ‘Inspired by Birds’ concept, will provide an artistic, cultural and economic legacy to our town.
Having been involved in Art and Craft Education during the 1970’s, the natural progression for me was to pursue my passion for creating original pieces of furniture. Having run Woodsedge Craft Centre, outside Lakes Entrance, for a number of years, I now run The Serigraph Gallery at Neerim South, with Christine Cochran.
A driving passion to create beauty, from old discarded and rare timber pieces, scarred by nature, is the impetus for most of my furniture. There is usually some disorder or contrast – an asymmetrical design, which creates tension and movement in my works. Both the delicate, and the strong, combine with minimal use of material.
I am excited about bringing artworks out into the street, and the ‘’Bower’’ concept, I believe, will certainly be a ‘’wow’’ factor at the entrance to our town.
Phil Henshall studied Architecture for 2 years in the 1960's and has played with oil paint on and off throughout his life.
During the larger part of his adult life he partnered in a Specialist Contracting business involved with the Construction Industry. He closed this business in 2000 with the intention of pursuing seriously his lifelong desire to paint. He had taken it up some years before this and been exhibiting with Serigraph gallery and other galleries from about this time. He has managed to achieve a couple of smaller prizes and a number of shortlistings towards more major ones; notably, twice a finalist for the John Leslie Prize at the Sale Regional Gallery.
After closing the business he remained open to consultancy in the specialised area of reinforcement prefabrication. This resulted in being invited to assist with the M7 in Sydney, Gateway Bridge Duplication and Airport Link in Brisbane, and Eastlink in Melbourne to name a few projects. The prefabrication of reinforcement normally requires frameworks, jigs or templates that are sketch-designed by him and then verified by Engineers before use.
The two elements / interests, viz. Art and jig design, enable Phil to provide a practical connection between larger scale design and its buildability, both of which are useful to the Neerim Bower concept.