‘Years in the making’: Benjamin Shine puts down the tulle to design stunning sphere for Denman Prospect

‘Years in the making’: Benjamin Shine puts down the tulle to design stunning sphere for Denman Prospect

It’s quintessential Canberra: the tarmac of a street in the inner south flooded with red, orange and yellow oak leaves on a brilliant autumn day.

But while most of us simply drive over the leaves – a distinct crunch emanating when you venture too close to the edge of the road – Canberra artist Benjamin Shine sees a natural masterpiece.

Benjamine Shine's Everchnage in Denman Prospect

The humble pin oak leaf was the inspiration behind Shine’s newest sculpture for Denman Prospect, Everchange, a giant sphere with an ever changing surface.

“I loved that mottled effect you get with pin oak leaves: red, green, orange and yellow,” Shine says.

“I thought that would make a beautiful surface pattern for a sculpture. If I could turn that into something with an appearance that changed all the time, I thought that would be amazing.”

It sounded simple enough, but the ever changing surface was a concept that took, quite literally, years to refine.

“We had to run quite a few tests over the course of two years because the concept called for these spinners, 2500 of them, that had to spin in the wind,” Shine explains.

“There was a technical challenge to get that balance between what is light enough to spin in the wind, yet durable enough to withstand the harsh Canberra weather conditions.

“Some of the spinners didn’t work, but we found one that did, which is what we ended up using.”

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A multidisciplinary artist most known for his pioneering work in tulle, Shine was born in the UK but moved to Canberra in the early 2000s after “falling in love with a Canberra girl”, now his wife, Danielle.

His incredible tulle portraits have been exhibited at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the London Design Museum, while clients and collaborations have included the MET, Givenchy, Beyonce, Vogue and Google.

Benjamin Shine’s Chloe x Halle ‘Harmony’

Trading fabric for thousands of ‘spinners’ as the material for Denman Prospect’s Everchange was a technical challenge Shine relished.

“The spinners were constructed and assembled by an engineering team at Sydney-based Tilt, while the pedestal for the structure was made here in Canberra,” he says.

“There were logistics of just making sure everything connected correctly, including the inner workings of the frame inside the piece. It’s quite complicated and we had to arrange to shut off roads because we had to use a massive crane to move it all in.

"In order to get the changing effect of the colours, there needed to be some way to get the surface of the ball to change. The spinner was the solution to that. There are four sides to each spinner, each with a different colour – red, green, orange and yellow – which each rotate and flash separate colours in the wind.

“When it’s still, you just see that particular colour to get that mottled effect.”

The result is a striking addition to the Denman Prospect public art collection; Everchange is a piece of art that changes with the wind.

Benjamin Shine's Everchange in Denman Prospect

“In general the presence of any artworks in Denman is important,” Shine says.

“It’s wonderful to have art around, and it was a privilege to be able to contribute to that.”