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James Angus
Built unbuilt unbuildable 2015

COR-TEN steel and polyester epoxy paint
Monash University Public Art Commission, 2015
Monash University Collection
Location: 13 Rainforest Walk, Clayton campus

Located in the forecourt of the Green Chemical Futures Building, James Angus’s sculpture Built Unbuilt Unbuildable is inspired by the form of a C60 molecule, known colloquially as a “Bucky ball” and named after the futuristic designer of geodesic shelters, Buckminster Fuller. The Bucky ball is a cage-like, fused-ring structure that resembles the shape of a soccer ball  and is considered extremely stable. In Angus’s artwork, it has been appropriated as a template for an arrangement of cones that are intended to resemble structural steel pipes. As the title of this sculpture suggests, it is presented as a proposition that celebrates engineering – a discipline devoted to the invention of structures, systems, materials and processes.

Built unbuilt unbuildable is made from common construction materials. The cones that make up the sphere are fabricated from weathering steel (known as COR-TEN, an alloy designed for use in outdoor conditions  where a protective surface is required) and are partially coated with industrial enamel paint. The palette of these enamels is taken from Australian Standard 2700 Pipeline Identification colours that are used to identify building service lines as a means of avoiding hazards – Jade G21 (water for  drinking, cooling, heating, etc.), Silver Grey N24 (steam for processes, exhaust and space heating), Golden Tan X53 (oils for fuel and lubrication), Lilac P23 (corrosive liquids and gases), Aqua B2 (air under compression or vacuum), Black N61 (chemical mixtures), Signal Red R13 (dedicated fire-extinguishing  supply) and Golden Yellow Y14 (ionizing radiation or biologically hazardous material). As a material, weathering steel exhibits increased resistance to atmospheric corrosion as it develops a protective surface layer. Over time, visible corrosion and oxidisation on the pipe interiors will occur in contrast  to the work’s brightly painted exterior. Angus conceived of the sculpture as an experiment in which the man-made elements of the work are put into tension with naturally occurring processes.

Photo: Andrew Curtis