(This Is) Air: The NGV’s new public artwork is a sphere that can breathe

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(This Is) Air: The NGV’s new public artwork is a sphere that can breathe

This Is Air
words by staff writer

If you've visited the National Gallery of Victoria, there's a good chance you've taken a stroll through the back gardens.

They’re the perfect place to grab an ice cream, get some fresh air and chill for a moment before tackling the second half of the massive gallery. Each year, the gallery commissions an architecture project to take the coveted spot.

Fans may remember the favourite pink Pond(er) in 2021 and the vibrant, Greek acropolis-themed Temple Of Boom, currently in its final few months of display. Now, the gallery has announced plans for the upcoming project, set to be unveiled on December 3. It’s sure to take your breath away.

(This Is) Air

  • The NGV has unveiled the plans for their upcoming architecture commission
  • Designed by Nic Brunsdon, the new project will be a massive inflatable sphere that expands and contracts
  • Opening on December 3, the public art will be free to visit

Explore Melbourne’s latest arts and stage news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

(This Is) Air pays tribute to the fundamental aspect of human life: breathing air. Crafted by the award-winning Western Australian architecture studio Nic Brunsdon in partnership with ENESS, the project will feature a 14-meter high inflatable sphere that has the ability to inhale and exhale throughout the day.


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“This commission seeks to make air present. This matter that we spend our lives swimming in and through. Air and breathing are our common act. Both equalising and non-discriminatory, it is the defining feature of life on Earth,” wrote the architect in a statement.

At full capacity, the piece will resemble a gigantic ping pong ball and will feature projections on its spherical screen. As it deflates, it will morph and flutter in the wind, before finally appearing as an empty sheet on the ground.

“Air can be understood as part of our global economic, social and ecological realities. And yet, the quality of air we breathe varies depending on where and how we live. Air is universal, yet clean air is not,” says the NGV’s senior curator of contemporary art, Ewan McEoin.

(This Is) Air is part of the NGV Triennial 2023 which will showcase 75 works of art, architecture, technology and design, including 25 world-premiere projects. 100 artists from across the world are set to be involved, including Yoko Ono, Schiaparelli, Sheila Hicks, Heather B Swann and David Shrigley.

For more information on, head here

From Yoko Ono to painting robot dogs, NGV’s massive free triennial opens today