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Jane Cavanough is a landscape architect who designs site specific art in public places. Born in Sydney in 1963, Cavanough initially studied landscape architecture at the University of Canberra (1982-85) before commencing a Bachelor of Visual Arts at Sydney College of the Arts (SCA), University of Sydney (1991-93). When environmental public art emerged as an important idea in Australia in the early 1990s, Cavanough was well placed to combine her dual skills in landscape design and art. She later established Jane Cavanough Artlandish Art and Design (for public art commissions) in 1997 and Artlandish Incorporated (for community development projects) a decade later.

After graduating in landscape architecture, Cavanough worked for Urban Landscape Planners and the Department of Public Works in Sydney, before spending two years in London and Manchester at the Groundwork Trust, a community-based landscape architecture practice. Whilst in Manchester she attended a conference on environmental sculpture and was inspired to become an artist. Thus she returned to Sydney in 1991 to study sculpture at SCA.

In her first year as a visual art student she was the recipient of the 1991 SCA Jerome de Costa Award for outstanding work, and in 1992 she received the Art Gallery of New South Wales Basil and Muriel Hooper Scholarship for outstanding emerging artists. Also in 1992 Cavanough exhibited in the Blake Prize and in various artist-run galleries in Sydney and Melbourne.

Whilst still an art student Cavanough was engaged as a landscape architect in the Arts Council of New South Wales (later renamed Regional Arts NSW) Creative Village projects in Jerilderie (1992) and Gloucester (1993), with artist Michael Kieghery and architect Rod Simpson. Creative Village was an approach to interdisciplinary, sustainable and community-informed rural town design developed by the Arts Council. For Cavanough it provided an opportunity to work in a cross-disciplinary (art/landscape architect/architect) team.

Cavanough began working primarily as an artist in 1993. Shortly after graduating, she initiated and co-organised (with Gillian Smart and Frances Joseph) 'Artful Park 1’ and 'Artful Park 2’, in Centennial Park, Sydney, between 1994 and 1996. These were among the first environmental sculpture projects in Sydney.

Her big break as an artist came in 1997 when she was commissioned to create sculpture for the Ponds Interpretation Trail as part of a larger landscape design project for the Centennial Park wetlands. The interpretive project consisted of five public artworks including four hardwood wings attached to pylons that spine like weather vanes, thirty steel and hardwood 'reeds’, eight mosaic seats, and seven sandstone plinths with relief carvings of local water birds. In 1998 the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects awarded Context Landscape Design and Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust the Project Award for Design: Rehabilitation and Infrastructure for their work on The Ponds Interpretation Trail.

Cavanough works with a variety of materials including mosaics, sandstone, timber, forged steel, cast iron, laser cut sheet metal, ceramics, fibreglass and mist. This has led her to collaborate with a wide range of designers, artists and fabricators including: Cynthia Turner (mosaics), Marlie Kentish Barnes (stone), Ian Bartholomew (wood carving), Graham Bartholomew (steel work), Glenn Moon (blacksmith), Ian Jackson (playground design), and the firm Ross Engineering (steel fabrication). Cavanough has also worked with designers from established firms such as Hassell, Umbaco, Philips Marler, Context, and Pod Landscape Architecture.

In 2003 Cavanough was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study the relationship between sculpture, community and landscape. This provided her with the opportunity to travel to the United Kingdom, France, The Netherlands and Germany to look at public art, sculpture parks, playgrounds, and garden festivals. According to her report, she learnt much about the interrelationships between successful art projects and funding models, project management models, new materials and new kinds of partnerships with artists and designers.

In 2008 and 2009 Cavanough developed two memorial works: Mount Kembla Mine Memorial (2008) and the Australian Korean War Memorial (2008-09). The Mount Kembla Mine Memorial commemorates the 1902 disaster when ninety-six miners were killed in the largest peace-time land disaster in Australia. Designed in collaboration with Umbaco Landscape Architects and finished in 2008, the work consists of sandblasted basalt pavers, basalt dry stone walls around hand carved slate monoliths inscribed with poems by Conal Fitzpatrick.

The Australian Korean War Memorial in Moore Park, designed in collaboration with Pod Landscape Architects in 2008, explores the significance of commemoration, regeneration and remembrance, using the circular form with yin-yang divisions seen in the Korean flag. The central serpentine pathway, carved with the names of countries comprising the United Nations forces, symbolises commemoration. This pathway, set within a field of cast bronze flowers based on the South Korean national flower, the Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), symbolises regeneration. At the base of the vertical flower stems are cast concrete blades representing the mountainous and harsh Korean landscape, inscribed with significant battles fought by the United Nations forces.

In August 2008 Cavanough completed Wind Vanes at Ryde Wharf Reserve, Sydney. Working with Graham Bartholomew, Cavanough used tallow wood, galvanised steel and copper to create this wind responsive work – three tapered poles, each topped with a carved rowing boat, referencing the marine history of the area. The poles arise out of a decorative mosaic paving with a marine theme developed by collaborating Indigenous artists, Adrina Khobane and Rebecca Jones.

2008 also saw Cavanough complete work for the Ryde Wharf Reserve Public Art Project and Wollongong Botanic Garden Equal access play garden. She continues to design site specific, interactive and public art.

De Lorenzo, Catherine Note:
Barnes, Amy Note: Amy Barnes is a Landscape Architecture student at the University of New South Wales.
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