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Under Construction - Chaos and Order | 2015

by Peter Atkins

A new work created for SCAPE 8 New Intimacies

Peter Atkins, Under Construction - Chaos and Order, 2015. Commissioned by SCAPE Public Art. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo by Dana Harris.

Peter Atkins, Under Construction - Chaos and Order, 2015. Commissioned by SCAPE Public Art. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo by Dana Harris.

Under Construction - Chaos and Order is a new work Melbourne-based artist Peter Atkins developed for SCAPE 8 New Intimacies. Atkins’ art is primarily serial abstract painting, often generated by documenting readymade forms he encounters in the urban environment, such as road signage, medicine packets, record sleeves or train tickets. He then removes all text and figurative elements from these forms to leave abstract colour fields, which are the basis of his work.  He is particularly interested in the cultural associations of forms that have the capacity to evoke memory, nostalgia or our shared history of past experiences. 

Under Construction – Chaos and Order was designed during Atkins’ site visit to Christchurch, where he was struck by the number of directional signs in the city. The work is a double-sided installation, comprised of panels based on lane-management road signs, many of which are unique to the Christchurch rebuild. These have had their directional arrows removed, leaving a striking geometric pattern in the familiar reflective surface. The layout of the panels differs on each side of the work. One side is arranged randomly, engaging with the Chaos – obstacles, shards, dead ends, blockages – and alluding to feelings of uncertainty, confusion and frustration experienced by residents trying to navigate the city centre. The opposite side presents Order, in which the panels are arranged systematically, signalling a return to routine, as well as optimism about the future. The work has been fabricated by local road-signage company Fulton Hogan using the same materials as the signs that populate the city.


Peter Atkins

Peter Atkins checking prototype panel. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo by Dana Harris.

Peter Atkins checking prototype panel. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo by Dana Harris.

Peter Atkins is a celebrated Australian contemporary artist and an important representative of Australian art in the International arena. Over the past 25 years, he has exhibited in Australia, New Zealand, England, France, Spain, Italy, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Peter has been awarded residencies at the Cité International des Arts in Paris, The British School in Rome and Green Park in New Delhi, as well as Australia Council Studio residencies in Barcelona and Los Angeles. In 1994, he was sole Australian representative and gold medal recipient for his work titled World Journal at the VIII Triennale in India, which later toured extensively throughout Australia.  In 1996-97 his work was included in Systems End - Contemporary Art in Australia, curated by William Wright and Takeshi Kanazawa, and in 1999, his work was featured in Five Continents and One City in Mexico City, curated by Chinese curator Gao Minglu. More recently Atkins was invited to exhibit in the prestigious Clemenger Contemporary Art Award in 2009/10 and the landmark exhibition Melbourne Now in 2013/14, both at the National Gallery of Victoria. Peter Atkins lives and works in Melbourne, Australia.