Interview: Dion Horstmans
As Makers writes, cranes are getting down to business in Melbourne’s Collins Square. For the next few weeks, workers will be putting in place a 91-piece steel sculpture weighing some 59 tonnes – it is Super Sonic, the latest in a line of striking public works by Sydney sculptor Dion Horstmans.
Known for his beguiling use of shadow, lines and silhouette, the one-time prop maker who worked on a host of big budget American films (“I left film after ‘Superman’ in the early 2000s, I was disillusioned by the industry”) has birthed new life as an artist whose affinity with Melbourne runs deep.
Indeed Flinders Lane Gallery was the first to pick him up in the wake of his career shift following gallery director Claire Harris’ chance encounter of an email Dion sent containing images of his work. His strong signature struck a chord.
Since then, Dion has gone on to become a veteran participant of Sculpture by the Sea while another of his works, Tron, arrests the eye on the ceiling of Boheme at Bondi Beach.
But Super Sonic is, for the one-time fishing boat worker, a whole new kettle of fish.
Dion: “Super Sonic is based on a F-18 fighter jet at the moment it breaks the speed of sound, hence the name – it’s the sonic boom. I imagine the wings partially fragment to expand and transform… going up… we’re using cranes… it’s a beast.”
Growing up between New Zealand and the Cook Islands, Dion’s work is heavily influenced by the tribal motifs that surrounded him as a child. As he explains it, the strong geometric element now present in much of his art has developed in response to a keen interest in ethno-graphics.
Dion: “I started drawing and moved in to 3-D forms about 18 years ago. The geometric works that I’m playing with now happened in response to these: I was drawing inspiration from tribal figures and patterns, the figures became large square panels, then they became uniform shapes placed randomly within a grid, then they became lines… push it a little more and they become stretched and elongated. It’s a journey, I’m enjoying it. Two steps forward, one back.”
One could argue there is very little on the backward slide for an artist that has not only found his passion, but a responsive and engaged audience.
The artist himself confesses to finding intense pleasure in both the creative and constructive process, the hot metal flying: “It burns, it hurts, it’s loud, it’s aggressive – I liken it to war. The noise rattles me, the grinder vibrates in my hand… I love it.”
That such a cacophony produces works of enthralling elegance inspires a great curiosity that will make his an important addition to what Dion himself refers to as Melbourne’s “iconic public art scene”.
Super Sonic is scheduled to be finished installation by end June.