‘Platypus Rising’ is a new source of pride for the people of Skipton.
The four-metre-high sculpture was installed at Stewart Park on the Queen’s Birthday weekend.
Four patinated aluminium platypuses swim upwards around reeds made of Corten steel which will organically develop a surface layer of corrosion from exposure to moisture and air.
The transformation has already started and will gradually take place over the coming weeks, depending on the amount of rain.
Artist Mike Makatron designed the sculpture after meeting with townsfolk and learning what made the community tick.
Mr Makatron said he aimed to give ownership to the people who will benefit most from co-creation of a truly local landmark.
“Being based in Melbourne, I relied on that local knowledge to source avenues of inquiry to produce the conceptual approach for the work during the proposal stage, and to refine the design after winning the commission.
“I primarily interacted with the reference group. Malcolm Sanders was particularly helpful in providing insights about the local culture, heritage and landscape.
“It was great to interact with them during the presentation to identify what mattered to them and what aspects were perhaps less important.
“The art lives on long after I depart, so it’s important to make sure the design is informed by the community and feeds into local identity.
Mr Makatron has a long-standing passion for botany and tries to represent native Australian flora and fauna throughout his work.
His mural includes eucalyptus leaves and florals that are found in the Skipton region, as well as the iconic platypus, and the sculpture reflects the reeds in the nearby creek.
“I am happy for people to make their own interpretations, but I was aiming to represent the dynamic, fluid movement of the animals who are so agile in their environment, as well as the smooth curves of the reeds.
“Mr Sanders was one of the locals on the community selection panel who chose Mr Makatron from more than 30 applicants and a shortlist of four.
“The work itself came in two parts,” Mr Sanders said.
“Mike usually does these quite colourful murals. He delivered one for the wall of the Mt Emu Café and then this beautiful sculpture at the entrance to Stewart Park where there is a platypus viewing area.
“It was a way of reflecting a part of the community — something that the community is very proud of.
“Now we’ve got these two rather wonderful pieces of art that sits alongside the work by Jimmi Buscombe under the bridge and we’ve got a bust of Sir Henry Bolte. There’s a sculpture of a shearer going in… to celebrate another aspect of the community which is the sheep culture.
“There’s quite a collection of public art in this small community. It’s punching above its weight in terms of public art.
“The community has really embraced it. They see their community as being represented and celebrated for what it is and who they are.”
North Ward Councillor Nick Cole said the artwork was an asset to the town.
“The sculpture goes well with Mr Makatron’s platypus mural on the café at the intersection of Anderson and Montgomery streets,” Cr Cole said.
“They show the attachment the community has to the land and our iconic wildlife.
“These artworks beautify the town and give travellers another reason to stop and explore as they travel around the Volcanic Lakes and Plains region.”
To see images of the sculpture under construction, go to https://bit.ly/3zTeJFK
Title: Platypus Rising
Materials: Corten steel, mild steel, patinated aluminium.
Artist: Mike Makatron
Dimensions: 4m x 2m x 2m (approximate)
- Mike Makatron – Lead Artist, Concept, Design, Fabrication, Muralist
- Leo Gester & Artbox – Creative Producer, Concept, Project Management
- Damian Vick – Shop Designs, Consultancy, Fabrication
- Cameron McIndoe and Fundere Fine Art Foundry – Moulding and Aluminium Casting (Platypus)
- Cezary Stulgis – Clay Sculpting (Platypus)
- KABER – Prototyping (Platypus)
- Efficiency By Design – Engineering