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Perfect fit: the convention centres supporting monumental art

Often vast in scale, convention centres are great places to exhibit large pieces of art, some of it permanent, some here today, gone tomorrow. Words James Lancaster

Marina Bay Sands, SINGAPORE

Anish Kapoor’s Sky Mirror

The extraordinary Marina Bay Sands resort, home to the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, is statement architecture at its most innovative and daring – a work of art in itself.

Its figurative hotel towers – like three sisters in conference –  linked by a public skypark and open air swimming pool, have stopped the least curious of delegates in their tracks.

The resort’s wonderful ‘Art Path’, consisting of 11 large-scale installations, is equally hard to ignore. It is arguably the most significant collection of site-specific public art in Singapore.

Featuring works by eight internationally acclaimed artists, the path weaves its way through the hotel and surrounding grounds, creating ‘multiple layers of experience’ for visitors.

Drift, a massive, three-dimensional, stainless-steel matrix, by Anthony Gormley, rises between the fifth and 12 levels in one of Marina Bay Sands’ atriums, like scattered thoughts. Meanwhile Anish Kapoor’s famous Sky Mirror, installed in 2014, appears to ‘bring the sky down to earth’.

The Art Path also includes works by Ned Kahn, Zheng Chongbin, James Carpenter, Israel Hadany, Zhan Wang and the late American artist Sol LeWitt, who died in 2007.

ICC Sydney, SYDNEY

ICC Sydney Pyrmont Theatre Foyer

ICC Sydney is home to Australia’s most significant collection of large format art works.

Monumental pieces, inspired by Sydney’s harbour and foreshores, are displayed across the convention centre foyer and along Darling Harbour precinct.

The paintings, by 30 local and international artists, are estimated to be worth AUSD23m.

Major pieces from Brett Whiteley, John Olsen, Sandra Leveson, Lloyd Rees and Tim Storrier, alongside key works from esteemed Aboriginal artists such as Gloria Tamerre Petyarre and Long Jack Phillipus Tjakamarra, feature in the exhibition that inspires conference delegates to greater things!

CEO of ICC Sydney, Geoff Donaghy, said the venue was proud to be the custodian of such a dynamic range of artwork, which reflects its place within the broader cultural fabric of the city.

“The thread that runs through the collection is a celebration of both First Nations people and places and the cultural life of Sydney, where many artists have responded to the city, its harbour and its foreshores. Delegates are delighted to be working, learning and collaborating amongst iconic local works with many clients holding networking functions amongst the collection.”

The Walter E. Washington Convention Center, WASHINGTON DC

Public art at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center

Delegates attending a meeting at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center can network while perusing one of the largest public art collections in America’s capital city.

Featuring more than 100 works by local and national artists, the $4m collection includes sculpture, painting, photography, printmaking, and digital and conceptual art.

According to the venue’s operators, the art displayed ‘exemplifies a visible way for the convention center to create a sense of place, define history, and enhance the visitor’s experience’.

Highlights include West Coast political artist and photographer, Carrie Mae Weems – “The Armstrong Triptych with Bugle Boys” (2002); Jim Sanborn Washington, DC’s sculptor Jim Sanborn – Lingua “Spoken Word” (2003); Internationally acclaimed artist, Sol LeWitt – “Wall Drawing #1103” (2003); and “Shaw Wall” which celebrates the historic Shaw community, one of the District’s oldest African American neighborhoods and home to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

PARIS Expo Porte de Versailles, PARIS

Ella & Pitr

Paris is now home to Europe’s largest fresco.

The roof of Pavilion 3 at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles exhibition complex is now a masterpiece of contemporary urban art, by Ella & Pitr, the street artists known for their monumental murals.

Helped by a wayfinding drone, the artists spent ten days in June creating the work, which depicts an elderly woman wrapped in the Tricolor, at the behest of venue operator Viparis.

In 2015, Viparis launched a vast renovation programme at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles. Pavilion 3 will be razed at the end of 2022 to make way for a new structure – Ella & Pitr’s artwork with it.

Pablo Nakhlé Cerruti, CEO, Viparis, said: “The scope of Ella & Pitr’s work is a perfect match for the scale of the Porte de Versailles complex, as well as the site’s engagement with the city of Paris. In addition, the issues their work raises about the value of the ephemeral are a reflection of the event management industry, as well as Viparis’s renovation efforts.”