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