Paula Hart is a high calibre Perth based visual artist. Her practice has embraced public art, community murals, theatre commissions, festivals, and artist-in-residencies both in and outside of Australia. Paula enjoys exploring stories of people, community, place and identity, with a driving commitment to create art employing processes of community participation to create artworks that build a sense of identity and will inspire & delight the community.
The Shire of Broome commissioned Paula Hart and Broome local Chris Maher, to collaborate on the 9 Zeros – 9 Stories project which saw them create a series of sculptural pieces. The work aims to reveal the many perspectives of the Japanese attack on Broome, on 3 March 1942. It stands as a silent legacy to those who lost their lives, and the impact on this remote Australian community. Chris Maher gathered stories and yarns from behind the event from the local and wider community, whilst Paula explored photos and stories of Dutch, Japanese, Indigenous, military, white Australian and American people impacted by the events of that fateful day. The vision for the artists’ was to create nine Aluminium figures, each with a collection of historical and personal vignettes laser-cut into their bodies.
The Aluminium figures were to be fabricated and cut to scale in a boxed form, some up to 2 meters high. For maximum impact, the text itself needed to be laser-cut out of the metal sheeting. This text needed to be legible to all reading ages, and would have to conform to the constraints inherent within the sizing of the metal figure.
Paula approached us to support her and the production team to ensure the format of all graphical text elements would not only be legible, but also make the manufacture process easier and work in reality (special note was the font placement and sizing was critical for laser-cutting). We were cognisant of the reading flow for all viewers, to ensure engagement across all nine sculptures. Additionally, we wanted to make sure the selected fonts for all text, complimented and enhanced the design aesthetic and viewer experience. A key impact was the feel and tone across the various sculptures, as each sculpture would have different stories, but they would need to join and flow with the family of stories and messaging.
The artists didn’t want to create an artwork which was interchangeable with any other setting or any other war memorial. The artwork needed to capture the essence of Broome – the intense heat, the remoteness, the multiculturalism – and the way the war that had spread from Europe had reached this far flung corner of the world. They also wanted to create an experience more engaging than reading plaques, which has been achieved in spades. At all hours of the day the works are surrounded by an audience lost in contemplation, really reading every one of the stories.
The sculptures stand as a permanent feature in the Broome art trail, to tell the history and curiosity of the many perspectives of the Broome air raid story. It has been a treasure for us at BEVIN to be involved in helping deliver these sculptures into the landscape of Broome, for all locals and tourists to experience into the foreseeable future.