Balit-dhan Balit-ngangjin

Balit-dhan Balit-ngangjin benches installed at Wesley Place

Jun 28, 2022
  • Article by Online Editor

Produced by Axolotl, Balit-dhan Balit-ngangjin (‘Their Strength Our Strength’) are two solid cast bronze benches designed as a collaboration between artists Maree Clarke and Trent Jansen.

As part of their creative direction of art at the Wesley Place precinct by Charter Hall, Broached Commissions appointed Clarke and Jansen to create an artwork for the forecourt of the Wesley Place Church on Lonsdale Street in the Melbourne CBD.

Designed as a tribute to Louisa Briggs, William Barak and to the history of Coranderrk Reserve, the benches commemorate both agricultural practices employed at Coranderrk station, and traditional cultural practices of the Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri peoples in their forms.

Balit-dhan Balit-ngangjin

Branches that act as the exterior framework reference the hops poles used at Coranderrk, while river reed and charcoal seats acknowledge the unique cultural practices associated with the Boon Wurrung and Wurandjeri peoples.

The gesture was requested by the church and commissioned by Charter Hall – both seeking a counterpoint to the sculpture of John Wesley that stands in the precinct forecourt.

Axolotl delivered the sculptures in collaboration with the artists. The forms materialised through over 1000 hours of toil in prototyping and fabrication.

The process of bronze casting allowed each piece to echo the materiality of the branches, charcoal and reeds. The objects have a time-worn patina through being aged and hand polished with customised proprietary patina effects.

Landscape architecture by Oculus Studios completed the evolution of the benches into their final form on-site. Plants native to the Black Spur region were selected and embedded into the planter beds behind the benches. Over time, vines will wrap around each seat’s bronze branches in the same manner as hops were once twined around branches at Coranderrk.

Project Name: Balit-dhan Balit-ngangjin (Their Strength Our Strength)

Artists: Maree Clarke and Trent Jansen

Location: Wesley Place, Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Creative Direction: Broached Commissions

Commissioner: Charter Hall

Materials: Cast bronze, stainless steel

Dimensions: 1900mm w x 600mm d x 1800mm h each

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