IGS architect and mural artist reflect

IGS recently welcomed architect Di Jones and mural artist Lloyd Keleman back to the 4-8 Kelly Street campus they created 25 years ago.

As the IGS community consults ahead of the next IGS five-year strategic plan, Di and Lloyd reflected on the inspiration for their designs with Deputy Principal Students and Campus Life Mary Duma and 2021 Head Girl Grace Truman and 2021 Head Boy Orlando Read.

25 years ago, IGS had struggled to find a site and to find support from the then South Sydney Council to build the campus on what was then a burnt out woolshed, Di Jones remembered.

Both Di and Lloyd worked within a very tight budget and very tight deadline to create the School building and the mural, Seeds of the Future, on Kelly Street.

Keeping the front wall of the woolshed, Di create a space behind it that was flexible enough to be adapted in future, with strong walls on the sides and aluminium and glass and some coloured panels inside.

“There’s a concrete frame, and on the inside it’s lightweight, so there’s the ability to move things around,” she said.

The central courtyard was included to allow for “middle and long-distance views … a metaphor for what you are looking for in education”. 

The fact the building’s construction was straightforward “doesn’t mean you don’t have a sense of delight”. 

Diagonal views and open verandas on the upper levels allowed people to look across and down and back up, while spaces allowed “incidental interactions between people” and the central areas allowed for more communication between people.

The iconic pink and purple entrance and red stairs were deliberately complex tones and hues.

“When you are on a super tight budget, colour is almost the only thing you have to play with,” Di said. “It creates a sense of identity and a sensory experience. We had the belief that it would enliven a day.”

They were deliberately chosen to be complex rather than the primary colours popular in education at the time.

The mural was designed to break up the effect of the huge wall on the outside of the Hall and offer something back to the community while giving a human scale to the building.

Colour, energy, abstraction, texture, scale and light were all incorporated so that it was interesting both from a distance and up close, and people would find new things in it almost every time they walked past.

“The more you look, the more you see, to make it exciting all the time; it’s in a public place. You don’t want it to be boring.”

Lloyd included representation of the golden disc designed by Carl Sagan which went into space on Voyager in 1977 carrying information about the earth, including 50 languages spoken on Earth.

“It’s now 22 billion km from Earth,” he said.

The mural includes the symbol of the seed to show different ways of growth and potential, and allows for the imagination.

“We were looking into the future back then,” he said. “We were hoping the design and ideas didn’t date, and this is the world we still live in. 

Lloyd said the mural was designed to be open to interpretation and incorporate student work.

Both were glad to hear their working was standing the test of time.

“I am very happy to hear when people have enjoyed using the building and feel some emotional connection with it,” Di said.

“I would hope that the students take with them the understanding of peole and their environment in their future lives, and what that means for their sense of wellbeing and cognitive abilities, and they can engineer a greater sense of collective responsibility to our whole environment, and to a certain commitment to quality.”

See the video below.