Peter Atkins:
Ticket to ride

VAULT talks to Peter Atkins about his recent paintings and public art projects that respond to the narrative of travel.

feature by Peter Hill

“My recent work at Tolarno Galleries relates to a 44-metre-long public art project for City Square in Melbourne, running along Swanston Street,” Peter Atkins tells me in an email I pick up while travelling by train into George Square, in the centre of Glasgow. Two great cities, on opposite sides of the planet, framed by complex travel infrastructures and their attendant building sites. Fertile ground for the sort of inspiration Peter Atkins is always on the lookout to appropriate, and then transform. Glasgow’s Queen Street Station is undergoing far more than a facelift, while central Melbourne is being literally tunnelled out along its Swanston Street spine. These analogies are far more than skin deep; Atkins’ responses are far more than cosmetic. “My work exists under an umbrella concept of what I call ‘readymade abstraction’,” he says. “Essentially, the practice reinvents itself for every exhibition, but based on similar concepts that relate to each other, and often inform each other … Caravan Suite, Hume Highway, Melway Project, In Transit and The Passengers are all about the narrative of travel and the varied connections these evoke.”

Peter Atkins is a seductive shifter of scale. His life-project is an additive one. The same abstract imagery appears as authentically on public art hoardings as it does in a domestic, commercial gallery setting, or even shrunk down close to the size of its original inspiration, as fashionable lapel jewellery. He knows both what and who influences him. For the two recent projects – RAILway (2018/19), the commission for Metro Tunnel Creative Program, City Square, ... Subscribe to read this article in full

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