ARTIST Jamie North has given the by-product of iron ore smelting a new lease on life, recycling slag and using it in conjunction with concrete to create a set of sculptures on display at the National Gallery of Victoria.
The six impressive rock columns are made from materials collected in collaboration with Australian Steel Mill Services from the stony waste matter that is separated from metals during the refinement process.
Each piece is entwined with native vines that will bloom clusters of cream flowers with red or pink throats, showing how plant life can emerge from a state of erosion. The plants will eventually overrun the pillars, reflecting “nature’s awesome power to survive the most baron environments, even penetrating rock, stone and concrete”.
The project takes its name, Rock Melt, from the Karl Marx quote, “All that is solid melts into air”, which is also a key conceptual inspiration for the work. The pieces are inspired by the ability of native flora to grow randomly from mortar cracks in buildings and the aesthetics of mineral extraction and industrial waste. Rock Melt can be viewed at the gallery’s Federation Court from 27 March.