Public Funds and Power Couples Secure Australia’s New Pavilion
By Michael Young
The AUD six million-dollar target to fund Australia’s new Venice Biennale pavilion was met after arts minister Tony Burke pledged one million dollars to the milestone project. The building, designed by Melbourne architects Denton Corker Marshall, will be ready for the Biennale's 2015 edition.
Burke, appointed only last month, credits the public funding to the country’s new cultural policy, “Creative Australia,” which aims to advance arts education and develop infrastructure for arts industries.
Two of Australia’s power couples, actor Cate Blanchett and playwright Andrew Upton, as well as actor Rachel Griffiths and painter Andrew Taylor, were amongst those who donated to the new pavilion, which will sit on the banks of the canal that runs through the Giardini della Biennale.
Last Friday, the commissioner for Australia's exhibition at the 2013 and 2015 Biennale, philanthropist Simon Mordant, said that the donated funds “reflect the passion that exists for the project.”
Two years ago, Mordant and wife Catriona kick-started the campaign with a one million donation. After seeing Denton Corker Marshall’s design, the couple doubled their contribution.
“The design struck us as incredibly simple [and] extraordinarily engaged with the built environment of the Gardens,” Mordant said in an interview. “The black granite facade and the shape and scale of the exterior . . . took my breath away.”
Architect John Denton describes the minimalist structure made of South Australian black granite as “a white box within a black box.” Meanwhile, the architect of the 1988 pavilion, Philip Cox, regretted that the old pavilion “has been abused, kicked around and . . . mutilated on most occasions.”
The future construction has been widely welcomed by the arts community in Australia. Denton explained: “The previous structure just didn’t meet artist’s requirements today.”
The new building will break ground in December.