Artwork gift honours Geelong

The Core Values 2018 | by the Geelong Sculptors Inc.

The spirit of Geelong’s manufacturing history lives on at Deakin’s Geelong campuses thanks to a very special gift of artwork from Ford Australia and the Geelong Sculptors Inc.

In 2016, as Ford Australia was rolling out its Closing Plan, members of the Geelong Sculptors Inc. group rescued a range of old wooden pattern and core boxes from the iron foundry at North Shore.

These boxes carried a lot of history and nostalgic value, having been a vital part of Ford’s manufacturing process for decades.

Pattern making was the trade in which a foundry core box would be produced. The foundry core boxes would then be used to make a casting of the core – the negative moulds that replicate the interior void of the finished component.

The rescued pattern and core boxes were used to create three assemblage sculptures that present the viewer with a mass collection of interesting and colourful old objects that also mark the passage of time.

The first sculpture was designed and assembled by the Ford Australia Iron Casting Patternshop team and titled Blue Oval 2016. This sculpture was created in the foundry pattern shop three months before closure by Darren Matthews, Geoff Dutton, John Holak and Russell Bone. It comprises more than 70 pattern boxes and is shaped like the iconic oval shape of the Ford logo and was donated by the Ford Motor Company to the University in 2016.

Blue Oval 2016 | designed and assembled by the Ford Australia Iron Casting Patternship team

The second sculpture was a collaborative work by the Geelong Sculptors Inc members titled The Core Values 2018. This sculpture comprises only core boxes that the sculptors washed down, cleaned by hand, and then lightly sanded to retain as much original surface colour as possible. The core boxes were then hand-varnished with a water-based sealer, re-assembled, and attached to a hardwood frame that connects one box to the other. The Core Values 2018 was donated to Deakin by the Geelong Sculptors Association and the Ford Motor Company in 2018. 

The third sculpture, Time on our Hands 2018, was created by Darren Matthews, a sculptor and Ford employee who says that it “reflects the final time on our hands these patterns and core boxes would see.” It was donated to Deakin by the artist Darren Matthews and the Ford Motor Company in 2018.

Leanne Willis, Senior Manager, Art Collection and Galleries at Deakin University, explained that it was important to both the Geelong Sculptors Inc. and Ford Australia that the works be proudly displayed in Geelong.

“Geelong’s proud ‘maker’ identity continues – despite the closure of the Ford and Alcoa plants – thanks to a flourishing creative community and groups like the Geelong Sculptors Inc.,” Leanne said.

“We all felt strongly that these artworks deserved to find a home at Deakin where the people of Geelong could admire them as an important part of the fabric of the city.

“Fittingly, Blue Oval and Time on our Hands are on permanent display in CADET and ManuFutures, two of Deakin’s landmark engineering facilities at the Waurn Ponds campus.

Core Values is on permanent display in the John Hay Building at the Waterfront campus, where it looks perfect against the building’s beautiful old timbers and brickwork from a bygone era.”

According to Leanne, there are many advantages to gifting artwork to a collection like the Deakin University Art Collection.

“If you give to somewhere like a large state institution, it’s likely your gift will probably just go into storage alongside thousands of other artworks,” Leanne said.

“You’ll probably never see it on display in your lifetime.

“If you give to the Deakin University Art Collection, on the other hand, the artwork gains a second life – just like these one-of-a-kind pieces of Geelong’s history created by the Geelong Sculptors Inc. have.”

Time on our Hands 2018 | by Darren Matthews