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Some beautiful public statistics

May 7, 2010

Lovers of graphs and pie charts and all sorts of visualized information (me!) got lucky this year when Melbourne’s Federation Square announced that their Art in Strange Places residency was going to NZ artist Sara Hughes (b. 1971). Her recent exhibitions have focused on mapping networks of wealth distribution, power structures and currency value by reflecting on a variety of economic transactions, from the stock exchange to the garage sale.

Sara responded with creating Heat Wave, a public art installation of striking beach umbrellas with socio-political messages – the eleven umbrellas are in fact giant pie charts, with the key printed on the seat/base. Each umbrella was designed using statistics from areas of contemporary culture and in particular, the environmental factors that influence the climate and weather conditions of Melbourne.

I love her motivation, too, so important:  “As areas of public space shrink within contemporary cities and move towards the commercially owned and motivated (often filled with cafes sporting umbrellas sponsored by drink, food and cigarette companies) this project negotiates aspects of the culture landscape to produce an aesthetically and critically engaging environment.”

Summer is well and truly over in Melbourne, heat waves but a distant memory and the umbrellas are now dismantled, but you can see lots of Sara’s other amazing work here.

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