Vertical Village Living belongs to Davies’ recent body of work though a much larger canvas, at over fifty square metres. It is at a scale comparable with some of his signwriting work. Vertical Village Living mirrors the bold and bright signage found throughout Casuarina Square and also references the fact that Davies has previously produced signage at the shopping centre.
Vertical Village Living is more than just a signwriting piece. It is an artwork in signwriting materials and which plays with the aesthetic of signwriting including urban silhouettes and neon lighting. Its language is purely visual and abstract unlike a sign which is required to carry a particular name, logo, or message. The message of Davies’ work is, at first, the simple visual delight in his use of colour and abstract geometry. The awning itself gives a strong verticality to the design as viewers have to look up to see the work.
Davies’ intention was that Vertical Village Living should stand out and that the design elements should be appropriately scaled to reflect its architectural context. The design includes reflective surfaces to enhance the work’s geometric play and its overall sense as part of an area of movement and passage being that of a busy thoroughfare.
The title of Davies’ work, Vertical Village Living, may also be seen as a comment or reflection on urban development. Darwin’s high-rise landscape is modest compared with other capital cities in Australia and with nearby Southeast Asian cities. As a city Darwin is constantly being constructed and reconstructed therefore the question of its urban and related social development is always topical.
Bill Davies, b. 1954
Vertical Village Living, 2016
aluminium composite panel and Avery/Calon computer-cut vinyl
Bill Davies is an established Darwin visual artist best known for his drawing basedinstallations which have also manifest in mural based work. A visual arts graduate of Charles Darwin University in the early 1990s, Davies has participated in solo and group exhibitions in Darwin and Indonesia. Davies often works in an abstract expressionistic manner with a strong element of chance and gesture. As a regular participant of life drawing class, Davies has shown his fine, expressive hand for figurative work.
Davies also works as a commercial sign writer and has done this work for Casuarina Square since its opening in the early 1970s. Davies’ latest artwork has seen an interesting convergence of his signwriting and contemporary art practice in the form of abstract two dimensional works comprising signwriting materials such as aluminium panels and vinyl stickering.
As an abstract expressionist and experimental artist, Davies’ work generally avoids specific meanings or themes and is more about the process; how and in what context his works come about. Some of his work, including sculpture, has directly addressed themes of urban development and public housing.