Date published: 20/05/2016

Perth is a city reshaping itself. Streetscapes and laneways are being redesigned through major developments and an influx of visitors and residents are benefiting from a generational redevelopment of Perth.

The results will permanently alter our City skyline and streetscapes moving from a once linear, east-west landscape to one that has a direct relationship with the Swan River connecting Perth’s central business district with our cultural precinct, entertainment precincts and beyond. These changes create significant opportunity to think about the way in which our ‘new’ City should engage with its communities and how public art must feature in this dialogue.
Phil Gamblem, Toast, 2015. Photographer: Paul ParinEveryday landmarks are surrounded by swirling reconfigurations of building forms, uses and pedestrian trajectories. Permanent artworks serve as pivots in the landscape around which communities navigate their lives. By contrast, temporary and ephemeral artworks address the ‘here and now’ whilst enlivening spaces and providing engagement and interaction opportunities. Such artworks supply the dynamism needed to fuel cultural growth whilst enriching the pedestrian experience and providing a public forum to address topical and current issues relevant to the communities.
As a city in flux, artistic responses must embrace the new City energy and be used to create a forum that make us think again about the mutable world in which we live. The Perth Public Art Foundation recently launched perthFLUX, a curated program of temporary and ephemeral interventions, as a response to our City in change.
Tiny Parades, by SNAPCAT aka Renae Coles and Anna Dunnill was the first instalment and TOAST, by Phil Gamblen was recently unveiled in Grand Lane as the second instalment.
TOAST, by mid-career artist Phil Gamblen, is an acoustic sculptural installation, featuring in Grand Lane until Friday 27th May 2016.
With a physical presence designed to contrast the urban soundscape, TOAST offers the enquirer an ‘orchestra of sound’ through individually controlled microcontroller channels. As a sound producing kinetic artwork, TOAST consist of a series of identically hand-made mechanisms, each containing a spoon which repeatedly taps a wine glass producing a series of 'chinking' sounds. With multiple mechanisms, the impact offers varying compositions of rhythm, volume, ambience and pitch. Possibilities include sporadic sounds where only one or two mechanisms are activated, through to 'crescendos' that involve a larger number of mechanisms all activated at once.
This public artwork takes, as its starting point, investigations of noises that are in contrast to the urban environment. Building on this, it aims to reward the curiosity of its audience with a vibrant imaginative installation generated from sound that plays on senses and takes the viewer on an interactive journey that references western culture and history.
Phil Gamblen said that TOAST was intended to “catch people by surprise and give them an unexpected visual and auditory experience.  It's meant to be humorous and quirky but at the same time hopefully reaches the audience on a meaningful level.  It's an idea that I've had in my head for quite some time and perthFLUX provided the ideal opportunity to realise it."
Phil Gamblen, Toast, 2015. Photographer: Paul ParinExecutive Director, of the PPAF, Nathan Giles said ‘he was delighted the Foundation was able to secure an artist of Phil Gamblen’s calibre and that they could offer opportunities of an experimental through perthFLUX for established artists. Phil is an accomplished West Australian artist who has undertaken significant public art commissions in recent times. His practice is inspired by nature, informed by science and conceptually grounded through the use of light, motion and sound. With the inclusion of kinetics, electronics and sound, TOAST will provide a creative and unique interactive relationship with its audience’.

Grand Lane has been upgraded as part of Forgotten Spaces, the City of Perth’s laneway strategy and is home to a number of commissioned artworks including a 99 metre mural by Victorian artists Bonsai and Twoone, Timothy Rollin’s untitled mural work on the eastern wall and a mural by Chris Nixon.
At the northern end is the City of Perth’s Light Locker Art Space, which is an exhibition space for emerging artists. The recent addition of The Museum of Perth, the Henry Saw Café and Toastface Grillah has seen Grand Lane become a cultural and social hub in Perth’s CBD.
The selection panel for TOAST included - Katherine Wilkinson, Ashleigh Whyte, Leigh Robb, Dr Perdita Phillips  and Nathan Giles.
The next instalment in perthFLUX will be commissioned later in 2016.
Keep updated on perthFLUX and other Perth Public Art Foundation projects -

Project details:

  • Artist: Phil Gamblen
  • Client: Perth Public Art Foundation
  • Project Location: Grand Lane, PERTH
  • Year completed: 2015

About the Perth Public Art Foundation
Arts are vital to the lifeblood of any city. Through art we can shape and educate our community whilst providing alternate avenues by which to inspire and question. The arts are a powerful vehicle of communication, a way to express visions that are often beyond the capacity of words and a medium for cultural enlightenment.
Knowledge of the arts is an indispensable basis for enlightened citizenship in an increasingly complicated world. Responses to critical events locally and worldwide are just one reminder of the essential role that the arts play in exploring the emotional dimensions of experience and in shaping the way people engage and react.
Public Art plays a pivotal role in providing a forum for these narratives to be debated and discussed. The Perth Public Art Foundation (PPAF) is a not-for-profit cultural charity that develops public art projects funded through corporate partnership and philanthropy. The PPAF is a unique organisation providing a platform for community engagement and investment in human capital whilst adding to our City’s cultural narrative.
The PPAF enjoys a principal partnership with the City of Perth.


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