THREE huge cranes struggled as they worked in unison, daylight fading, to slot the last section of the giant rainbow arch of sea containers into place on Beach Street Reserve, just up the road from Fremantle’s old traffic bridge on Canning Highway.
Nine metres high, 19 metres long and tipping the scales at 66 tonnes “Rainbow” presented challenges not usually faced in True Blue Containers day-to-day business, director Dion Clifford says.
“We had to modify containers in ways never done before.”
The company was approached by artist Marcus Canning two years ago as he unfolded his massive art project.
“Our part was to supply, modify and paint them,” Mr Clifford says.
The job was so huge True Blue partnered with neighbour CME Boilermaking to weld the huge metal struts inside the containers that allowed them to be bolted together.
CME’s managing director Peter Camarri says they made a life-sized template of the sculpture on the company’s factory floor to ensure the angles were perfectly aligned.
Mr Clifford says one of the difficulties in painting the sea containers was that once done, they couldn’t be put down on the ground for fear of scratching the surface. He says their yard was filled with sea containers propped up on stands.
“We had customers coming in and their wives were saying ‘I want one of those pink ones’,” Mr Clifford laughs.
“It gives you ideas…”
The containers were then trucked from True Blue’s Midvale yard to Fremantle for the final phase, a delicate operation despite the massive size of the art work – with each container weighing three tonnes.
“We are over the moon…to contribute to such an exciting project,” Mr Clifford says.
“From my point-of-view it’s the best piece of public art in Perth.”
RAINBOW is a work that is 110 per cent Freo, over-the-top fun and frivolous whilst remaining resonant and rich with deeper references, resplendent and radiant, brash and ballsy.
The work is a monumental welcome arch that speaks to the port environment over which it stands. These elements (sea container and rainbow) have strong associations with the history and character of Fremantle both in the historical and contemporary moment.
Containers are a ubiquitous element in the port environment and its surrounds and a direct symbol of the history of Fremantle as a commercial port from the deepening of the harbour by CY O’Connor in 1897.
The rainbow is a symbol of many things including alternative and counter cultural hippy styles and aesthetics, a distinctive and ongoing element of the Freo character.
The rainbow is associated with dreams, flights of fancy and the escapism of fantasy.
It’s a universal symbol of hope as well as aspiration.
By slamming these seemingly incongruous elements together, the results speak volumes about the unique spirit of Freo as well as its character – big, bold and brutally beautiful. Colourful, creative and a little bit crazy. Super-sized playful on an industrial scale. Welcoming, whimsical and joyful. Undeniably and distinctively – Freo.
The work gives a nod to the ready-made as much as concrete art, pop art as much as minimalism, it also speaks to global economic as well as cultural concerns in the age of late capitalism.
It was the transportation entrepreneur Malcom McLean who revolutionised international trade in 1956 when he developed the intermodal shipping container, standardised the transportation of goods around the globe and ultimately lowered the cost of goods, everywhere – contributing more than any other single invention to the exponential explosion of globalised economy and world trade that was to roll out over the second half of the 20th century.
Rainbow is a new iconic entry statement for the portside City of Fremantle – visible from a range of major entry arteries – from the water, from the air, from rail as well as car. Its presence is as architectural as it is sculptural, awe inspiring for the pedestrian to engage with, a beacon of welcome that is instantly recognisable from afar.