Back to the City – Breath of Life Art Installation

A team of engineers, architects, artists and historians across the University and community have come together to propose an art installation for one of Newcastle’s landmark sites for the Back to the City project http://www.backtothecity.com.au/index.html

Aerial View of Obelisk site with superimposed Armstrong 1830 plan
Aerial View of Obelisk site with superimposed Armstrong 1830 plan (Larger Image)

Back to the City is a series of temporary urban art interventions taking place in the City of Newcastle during January and February 2008 under the Artistic Directorship of Professor Steffen Lehmann. Seventeen collaborative teams of artists, architects and landscape architects will produce a series of site-specific installations in the city centre. The aim of the project is to investigate contemporary and relevant crossovers between the disciplines, as well as testing and experimenting with new forms ofcollaboration, bringing into focus the revitalisation process of Newcastle’s city centre.

The ‘Breath of Life’ proposal was to construct and install a series of mini windmills around the Obelisk at the top of town, and in the process promote new directions towards clean renewable energy on the historic site of Newcastle’s windmill which was completed in 1821, and demolished in 1850.

Obelisk - Courtesy Hunter Photobank

Obelisk (Courtesy of Hunter Photobank)

Correlations of the obelisk as symbol of traditional solar worship are also plentiful. The obelisk to the ancient Egyptians symbolised the sun god Ra. It was also believed that the god actually existed within the obelisk, and was worshipped as the dwelling place of the sun-god. During the religious upheaval of Pharoah Akhenaten’s reign the obelisk was said to be a petrified ray of the solar disc aten. (Ref: Illustrated Dictionary of Symbols in Eastern and Western Art by James Hall, published by HarperCollins, 1994: p. 75). As a symbolised embodiment of the ray of the sun, it is therefore a fitting reminder to reinvigorate this site with mythical sun and wind energy.

The team was one of 10 successful applications, with a further 7 being invited to prepare installations across the city. There was a feature in the Sun Herald 18/11/07 (“Steel City Prepares to Show Off Its Creative Side” Hunter Extra pp.4-5)

For more information please see the Breath of Life website and Breath of Life Proposal (2MB PDF).


Friday, January 4, 2008

Welcome to Breath of Life Arts Project

Obelisk (Courtesy of Hunter Photobank)

Welcome to Breath of Life – Back to the City Arts Project. Back to the City is a series of temporary urban art interventions taking place in the City of Newcastle during January and February 2008 under the Artistic Directorship of Professor Steffen Lehmann. Seventeen collaborative teams of artists, architects and landscape architects will produce a series of site-specific installations in the city centre. The aim of the project is to investigate contemporary and relevant crossovers between the disciplines, as well as testing and experimenting with new forms of collaboration, bringing into focus the revitalisation process of Newcastle’s city centre.

The ‘Breath of Life’ proposal was to construct and install a series of mini windmills around the Obelisk at the top of town, and in the process promote new directions towards clean renewable energy on the historic site of Newcastle’s windmill which was completed in 1821, and demolished in 1850.

Correlations of the obelisk as symbol of traditional solar worship are also plentiful. The obelisk to the ancient Egyptians symbolised the sun god Ra. It was also believed that the god actually existed within the obelisk, and was worshipped as the dwelling place of the sun-god. During the religious upheaval of Pharoah Akhenaten’s reign the obelisk was said to be a petrified ray of the solar disc aten. (Ref: Illustrated Dictionary of Symbols in Eastern and Western Art by James Hall, published by HarperCollins, 1994: p. 75). As a symbolised embodiment of the ray of the sun, it is therefore a fitting reminder to reinvigorate this site with mythical sun and wind energy.

The team was one of 10 successful applications, with a further 7 being invited to prepare installations across the city. There was a feature in the Sun Herald 18/11/07 (“Steel City Prepares to Show Off Its Creative Side” Hunter Extra pp.4-5)

For more information please see the Back to the City website and Breath of Life Proposal (2MB PDF).


Sunday, January 19, 2008


Breath of Life – Construction Images


John drilling

Beau Drilling

Painted Posts

Warren at work


A Star is Born


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Breath of Life Windmill installation- Go Ahead

The process of planning the windmill instillation has been lengthy and has required input from all team members. The past two days has been extremely physically challenging and the great help from our volunteers has been appreciated, thanks to Vicki, John, Nic, Beau, Charlie, Warren, Brian and Paul for their assistance with drilling holes and windmill installing.

Tonight at 8.10 we had windmills up (except for 2) these will be installed tomorrow. The great teamwork has paid off, and the process has certainly challenged us in how best we can work as a team, I think we have been very successful in our project and would like to congratulate you all- WELL DONE.

There were many on lookers today and I think that the ‘Breath of Life’ Project provides the opportunity for the site to be seen in a different light and for the city’s history to be revisited.

All in a Day

View the Breath of Life slideshow on Flickr

During the afternoon the site became alive with the vista of windmills all around, the installation formed new viewing points and the Newcastle landscape (looking outwards) seemed so much different. The scene to Nobbys Headlands was framed and the view towards the Kooragang Windmill made it not appear as isolative as usual. The nearby Jesmond House appears closer , not as detached from the hill. The Parade Ground and Military Buildings on the James Fletcher Hospital site are now in focus. Those enjoying the nearby Park, take a quick glance at the Obelisk, it has some new friends for a while. It has a ‘Breath of Life’.
The City is captured from all angles.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Back to the City Launch – Newcastle Australia

Professor Steffen Lehmann Artistic Director of the ‘Back to the City’ project speaks at the launch of the event by Lord Mayor of Newcastle John Tate. 24 January 2008. For more information please consult the Back to the City Website.

Breath of Life in the Media


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sites to Behold



Monday, January 28, 2008

Breaking News – Windmills Mysteriously Disappear


[REUTERS] NEWCASTLE, Australia – Dozens of white-sailed windmills have mysteriously gone missing over night from the Obelisk Hill site where they were installed only days ago, a representative for the Back to the City Arts Project said on Monday. All that remain are their tails.

The Breath of Life Art Installation team installed over 60 windmills, also known as the Australian White-Sailed Pinwheels, on the historic Obelisk site, 167 kms north of Sydney, as part of the Back to the City Project that was launched on the 25th January 2008.

“We have found a small number strewn on the ground showing evidence that some had been attacked by vandals or something quite monstrous and ferocious. You can tell by the teeth marks. The rest are missing,” Varelle Hardy, a senior official of the Breath of Life installation team, said.

But she ruled out the possibility of all 60 missing windmills falling prey to the vandal monsters.

“If these vandal monsters had destroyed them they should have left behind the bodies” after taking away the sails, she said, adding that just one in tact windmill had been found during an extensive search.

“Where did they go? I have no answer. It is a mystery,” Mrs Hardy said.

A Police spokesman did not rule out the possibility of contacting the Central Intelligence concerning the matter, “We will contact Interpol if necessary, in order to find out who did this. It’s an outrage. In all my years of policing I have never seen such a thing.” Detective Auster said. The Police confirmed today that they would set up Operation Boreas in an attempt to find the perpetrators.

“We hope that the one windmill who survived will help us with our inquiries” he said.


Breaking News – Windmills sighted over Manhattan

NEW YORK – Flying Windmills sighted over Statue of Liberty.

A set of mysterious objects commonly termed “flying windmills” were sighted by the US Weather Bureau station on Manhattan Island at 8:45 pm Sunday.
Zephyr Favonius of the Weather Bureau said that he and an assistant watched the “flying windmills” for approximately 10 minutes in the bureau theodolite, the instrument used to observe weather balloons.

They said the “objects” looked like your common variety American pinwheels, though looked different.

“They threw a soft white light”, they said, “as they passed the Statue of Liberty and occasionally took on a blueish hue. They moved through the sky at a leisurely speed and finally disappeared toward the northeast”.


Missing Windmills – Further Sightings


NEWCASTLE – Australia – Further reports have come in of sightings of missing windmills that mysteriously disappeared on January 25. A tourist holidaying at Cairo snapped this image of a solitary windmill flying past the Giza Pyramids. Another on board an Antarctic Exploration vessel reported a number of windmills flying in formation over this tabular ice berg that had just broken off.
“They’ve got to be ours” said Varelle Hardy, spokesperson for the Breath of Life art installation team. “I just can’t believe they’ve survived, we are all overwhelmed.”This was just the tip of the iceberg as Google reports over 190 sightings from 61 cities across the world.
The reports were confirmed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) who are assisting local police in tracking the missing windmills via satellite. A NASA official said that it was established protocol that when foreign bodies, such as these windmills, entered American airspace they be tracked. “This occurred 8.45pm our time when reports started flooding in of these flying white pinwheels passing our Statue of Liberty” the official said.
Detective Auster of Operation Boreas said while this was encouraging information their enquiries are continuing.
“This is great news. We hope to get to the bottom of this when our forensic detectives interview the one surviving windmill later today” he said.

Survivor Windmill ‘Speaks’ of Night Battle Ordeal


NEWCASTLE, Australia – Detectives of Operation Boreas have had a major breakthrough and been able to finally ‘speak’ with the sole surviving windmill of the Breath of Life installation.Inspector Auster told the international press conference assembled today that it had not been ‘easy’ – “As you may be aware Windmills don’t speak in our language, rather they converse in a form of music, so we needed to bring in specialists to find out what this one was saying.”The musicians from the Hunter Wind Ensemble translated testimony from ‘Windemere’ to English for over 4 hours hours today. What emerged was a tale of tragic terror, and an insight into a hitherto unknown world of windmills.At dusk on the evening of the 27 January 2008 they were set upon by large ‘flying sharks’ called ‘coaliaths’ who descended on the group of 60 odd art installations. Most of the windmills took flight, leaving their tails, much like lizards, as is also done in their species. They fly and scatter, similar to a dandelion’s seeds when the wind or a person’s breath blows the seeds off into the world. Some unfortunately did not make it, and were destroyed by the coaliaths.The windmills are said travel the earth, in some cases for years, before sailing down to germinate more of their kind in what we call ‘wind farms’.Dr Albrecht of the University of Newcastle, an expert in such species, said this recent discovery was amazing, and would lead to greater understanding of the phenomenon.”Words cannot describe my excitement” Dr Albrecht said. “To be now able to communicate with these lifeforms will help us to understand what they need in order to thrive.” “I have also discovered that these species cause sickness then death to the ‘coaliaths’ that attack and eat them”. Coaliaths are known to cause a medical condition known as ‘solastalgia‘, or the ‘feeling of homelessness while you’re still at home’. They are also responsible for clawing out huge chunks of the landscape of the Hunter Region. “They have voracious appetites” Dr Albrecht said.


Evidence of Coaliath Investation

In the Newcastle Herald it was reported that over night these ‘flying sharks’ struck again on another art installation, unfortunately in this case the flat people had no means of flight at their disposal.


Investigations are continuing with another sighting over the Sydney Opera reported.



Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cassini spots windmill at outer rings of Saturn

PASADENA, California — An odd, four-sailed, windmill-shaped feature passing the outer rings of Saturn has captured the interest of scientists with NASA’s Cassini mission.

“This is a very strange object, lying in a precise geometric fashion with four nearly equally straight sides,” said Dr Henk Nisesui, atmospheric expert and member of Cassini’s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

NASA authorities have been working closely with the Australian atmospherics team at Parkes Radio Observatory even since the windmills escaped Australian airspace on January 28. “It is astounding that a windmill from the Breath of Life art installation in Newcastle Australia has reached the outer reaches of our solar system”. Dr Niseusi remarked. Cassini scientists have calculated that at this rate it will leave the Solar System around February 17.

“We’ve never seen anything like this pass any other planet, yet there it is” he said.


Mr W


This is something really fantastic.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Flying Windmills Reported Over 97 Cities


NEWCASTLE – Australia – Reports of flying windmills have been flooding in to mission control on the Obelisk Hill site Newcastle Australia. There are now over 266 sightings over 97 cities worldwide, as tracked by Google Earth’s aerial windmill tracking station in New Jersey.”We are so pleased, and relieved that so many survived from their brutal attack only nights ago” Varelle Hardy, spokesperson for the Breath of Life Art Installation team said today.

A Very Happy Mrs Varelle Hardy

Breath of Life, part of the Back to the City Project was one of the installations attacked a number of nights ago by giant flying vandal sharks called ‘coaliaths’. Many windmills escaped (leaving their tails floating in the wind) and have been flying over the planet ever since their hasty departure.

“Evidence has also been emerging that some of our windmills have found sanctuary in distant lands and have sprouted wind farms” said Mrs Hardy. “We are sending out a call to local children to come to the Obelisk Hill on Saturday 9th February 9-11 am to help us create more windmills that we hope to plant locally and hopefully they will germinate and grow into mature wind farms.” she said.


Thursday, January 31, 2008

Breath of Life Wins Back to the City Competition

 

The Breath of Life Art Installation were one of two joint winners of the Back to the City Project awards. Professor Ann Graham of the University of Newcastle Australia announced the winners at the Newcastle Art Gallery 31 January 2008.

This comes as news of another sighting of the Breath of Life windmills has emerged at a Barak Obama rally in the US. Sightings have now grown to 385 reports from over 137 cities worldwide.


A Message from the Breath of Life Co-Ordinator

Last Monday (Australia Day holiday) the Breath of Life team made an executive decision to take down the remaining windmills.

Many had been destroyed by strong wind the day before and others had been vandalised, one pole was pulled from the ground and a windmill found lying in Wolfe Street.

We decided that the overall design needed to remain uniform and therefore the remaining windmills taken down. Although this does not make as much of an impact as the initial installation design, public safety was our main priority as we did not want to take the risk of any remaining windmills coming loose and harming anyone.

The installation of windmills has been well documented and a slideshow will be available at the Symposium today to highlight the project in its original state. Unfortunately we do not have the funds or the physical man power to restore the full installation, except to install a couple for February 9 children’s workshops. There are plenty of images available on our flickr site and blog pages that record the installation in its former glory.

The change in the design is also documented and interpreted (in a very creative way) as seen on the blog.

Ann Hardy
Co-ordinator
Breath of Life Team


Thursday, February 7, 2008

UK Indie Group Convinces Windmills to Fly Home

Indie UK pop group “The School” with their fantastic new song “All I Wanna Do” have convinced some of the wayward windmills to return home in time for the Children’s workshop on the 9th February. “We were in a state of despair” said Varelle Hardy, spokesperson for the Breath of Life team. “How could we hold a children’s workshop with no windmills?” The group’s Spanish Record Label elefant records answered an international plea from the Breath of Life team for help. “These windmills only understand music, so it’s natural that once they found a song they liked, they would return.” Here’s hoping.


Saturday, February 9, 2008

Children’s Workshops Cancelled

Poor weather has forced the cancellation of the children’s windmill making workshops, scheduled for this morning 9-11am. The activities including windmill production, mural painting and childrens’ interpretation of the windmills story were all set to go. We’re very sorry. Keep watching the skies.

Philosopher Discovers Coaliath Egg


Dr Glenn Albrecht of the University of Newcastle has astounded scientists around the world with the discovery of the first Coaliath egg. “These creatures have been responsible for unleashing untold harm upon the planet” – Dr Albrecht said today before a packed media conference. “We face catastrophic consequences if we do not deal with this threat head on”.Dr Albrecht has been involved with the police investigations relating to the alleged attack of these flying sharks upon the Breath of Life art installation on Obelisk Hill last month. He led a perilous expedition into their heartland in the Hunter valley. He and his team faced great terror in the recovery of the egg, with the party coursing its way into their perilous lair.”Our hope is that with this egg we can learn more about what makes these monsters tick, and how we can bring down the beast for the good of life on Earth” – Dr Albrecht said.Read Dr Albrecht’s latest research on Coaliath eggs on his blog.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Gusts Stole Thunder From Art


Friday, October 24, 2008

Vale Jon Noble


Caroline Hale and Jon Noble

It is with great sadness that we heard the news that Jon Noble, a member of the Breath of Life Project team, passed away suddenly yesterday Thursday 23 October 2008. His fellow team members were very appreciative of the great support and hard work that John gave to us all during the ‘Breath Of Life’ project, he was such a great help. Our sincere condolences go to his partner Caroline Hale and family. He was 55 years of age.


About Us


Breath of Life Project Team:
Sylvia Azzi, Ruth Goodwin, Gionni Di Gravio, Caroline Hale,
Ann Hardy, Varelle Hardy, Jason Harvey and Elizabeth Milgate.

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