Musa, Helen, "Wordplay house", The Canberra Times, May 15, 1998
1998







Sculptor Neil Roberts is really a poet–a poet in neon. When he was commissioned to create his neon fantasy House Proud, which graces the top of the new Playhouse, he sat down and wrote a poem playing on the very word – “playhouse”.

“My intention was simply to animate the theatre and its surroundings,” Roberts says, explaining that neon and theatre go together in his mental picture of a cityscape, notably lacking in Canberra.

Roberts, whose neon poetry also lights up the ACT Magistrates Court, has been playing with the medium since 1990, when he launched his now-famous irrigator sculpture in Nerang Pool at Floriade. He also used it in a temporary installation at the 1992 Adelaide Festival.

One of a team of six artists who joined a brain storming session with the architects at the pre-planning stage, he was eventually selected under the ACT’s public art program, which sees art works incorporated into new buildings.

Roberts’s neon word-poem begins with an address to Vernon Circle and finishes 180º around with a line thrown in the direction of Civic Square.
House Proud
i
StagehousescreamhousePlayhousedreamhouse
ii
ohhousehighhousefullhouserlohouse
iii
hothouseacthouseourhouserapthouse
iv
rousehouseproudhouseloudhouse
v
sethousestayhousesayhouseplayhouse
vi
myhouseeyehouseherehosuetherehouse
vii
huffhousepuffhousebringthehousedownhouse

Roberts hopes his words, high in the sky, will look beautiful in the twilight and serve the function of illuminating the new Playhouse. “They give a sense of theatre and of life,” he says.





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