The ‘Absolut Dahlsen’ commission was a really wonderful experience, mainly due to the team I was working with throughout the whole project. This included the executives from Absolut who worked with me most surprisingly, in a very lateral manner. This really helped keep an exciting flavour from the beginning through to its completion.

The advertising designer team also came to Byron Bay to my studio on a number of occasions to see the development of the work and to give input into the project, which was always welcome.

I had some excellent professionals lined up to help with this project. This began initially with my engineer, through to the fabrication companies which helped me put together the core structure of the sculpture upon which I attached the thousands of flip-flops or as we call them here in Australia ‘thongs’.

I made the following statement at the time about the work:

* (The following text will be of use to those wanting to make submissions and pitches for large public art projects. Used as an outline, this way of introduction and methodology has proven successful. See also the next ‘Guardian’ project with further submission notes).

“The real beauty of the found object work that I create, especially when I use thongs, is that most people who view it have owned a pair and will enthusiastically scan this sculpture with the romantic and genuine notion that somewhere is an old pair of their thongs that they lost on the beach!

Because of the images thongs conjure up like the great outdoors and beaches, you will most likely find that the public will interact very intimately and humorously with this sculpture, experiencing a fond and genuine sense of ownership of the work.

I would like to propose that this work, which is expected to reach an approximate height of 5 metres (not including the plinth base), is to be seen as a permanent piece made with quality materials.

This piece could then be publicly donated to either the Powerhouse museum in Sydney, as a gift from Absolut Vodka, or to the Gold Coast City Art gallery, as a gift for their sculpture walk.

These are two public institutions whose collections I am a part of and may be interested in accepting such a gift for their collection. However, I must note here, that the work would need to be made from quality materials, which would give the piece an appropriate lifespan and durability and a sense of permanence for it to be accepted by either of these institutions.

This is art sending out an environmental message. In 2000 following my being awarded the Wynne prize at the Art Gallery of NSW with the “Thong Totems”, I was appointed the official artist of the new millennium for the environmental organizations, Clean up Australia and Clean up the World.

I am proud of this association, as well as being proud of my association with the Australian Conservation Foundation through Peter Garrett, who was kind enough to open my “Renewed” Melbourne solo exhibition, a percentage of any opening night sales was offered to the Australian Conservation Foundation Marine campaign.

I see this project at Bondi with its inherent environmental message, as a continuing example of my support for these two environmental groups.”

Having the whole project filmed and made into a DVD was another bonus, which I instigated because I knew it would be an exciting project worth recording for posterity and for the use of the general public.

This filming continued all away through to the launch, which was held at the sculpture by the sea outdoor art exhibition in Sydney. This launch turned out to become an “A” list event on the Sydney social scene and was a very interesting experience.

Another really exciting result of this whole exercise, apart from the enormous amount of media and positive response that the work garnered, was the fact that I was able to negotiate with the executives at Absolut and the Gold Coast City Art Gallery, to have this work placed on semi-permanent loan outside the front of the gallery in a prominent position. It is still there to this day.

In fact, the team at Absolut agreed to foot the bill for any further updates that I may need to make to this sculpture as the years go by, and as some of those flip-flops are ceremoniously pulled from the surface via the expected vandals who can’t help themselves. I imagine I will probably do this after a five or 10 year period when necessary.

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