Artworks brighten Perth Core Library

The beauty of Western Australia’s geological formations and the technology from its mining industry were the inspiration for the Perth Core Library art collection.
Date: Monday, 15 May 2017

The vibrant beauty of Western Australia’s geological formations and the technology of its mining industry inspired the artworks now brightening the walls, floors and ducts of the Perth Core Library in Carlisle.

core library
DMP Facilities Services Project Manager Andrew Goss and artist Dr Nien Schwarz at the Perth Core Library.

The Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) facility, which stores drillcore samples that can be studied by researchers and explorers seeking new petroleum and mineral discoveries, underwent a $7.3 million extension in 2016.

Artist Dr Nien Schwarz recently conducted a tour of her collection of works titled ‘Core Values’, which features 10 interrelated pieces across four zones in the library and adds the finishing touches to the extension project.

DMP Facilities Services Project Manager Andrew Goss said the art project was undertaken through the WA Government’s Percent for Art Scheme operated by the Department of Finance and the Department for Culture and the Arts.

“The scheme employs Western Australian artists to deliver artwork for major new public buildings,” he said.

“The tour provided an opportunity for representatives from DMP and the Percent for Art Scheme to not only see the finished works in place but to also learn about how they were created from the artist herself.

“This amazing project could not have been undertaken without the dedication of talented artist Dr Nien Schwarz and the support of our project partners.”

“The works reflect the library’s core business of archiving drillcore, providing core viewing areas and constructing rapid spectroscopic logging and imaging to advance research and exploration.”

Dr Schwarz told the tour group that she grew up in Canada in a family where several members worked in geology or related fields, which sparked her interest in the topic and drew her into remote regions.

She worked in bush camps and cooked her way across the arctic supporting Canadian Geological Survey expeditions and has also volunteered for Australian scientific crews.

Currently a senior lecturer at Edith Cowan University, her artistic works linked science and art, with fieldwork providing the opportunity to explore and gather materials for her pieces.

Dr Schwarz said working on the core library project had been a great experience and being able to closely collaborate with DMP staff was a key factor in creating site-specific pieces.

“There was a flexible approach so you could mix and match in a sense,” she said.

“I’m thrilled and it’s certainly been a highlight of my career.”

A horizontal sequence of shimmering etched aluminium composite panels on the outside walls greet visitors to the library, whereas the three dimensional vinyl artwork  ‘Aerial Tread’ on the foyer floor creates a floating sensation using colourful aeromagnetic imagery from the Eastern Goldfields region.

Other artistic works include photographs, paintings created using hand-prepared natural rock pigments, poetry, and a graphic log showing mineral analysis from an exploration core that wraps around three sides of the HyLogger room.