Dan Wollmering

Dan Wollmering

Dan Wollmering was born in St. Paul Minnesota, USA and immigrated to Australia in 1975. He is currently Senior Lecturer in the Department of Fine Arts and Sculpture Studio Coordinator, Faculty of Art and Design, Monash University.

Wollmering holds the following degrees: BA, MFA and PhD and has held 25 solo exhibitions and work included in over 40 group exhibitions internationally. Completing major public artworks in Australia, China and the USA, he was recently awarded the prestigious Contempora Sculpture Award for a socio/political work that part sculpture and part architecture. He has participated in overseas residencies including Malaysia, USA, and the Ninth Guilin International Sculpture Symposium in Southern China. A recipient of the Dame Elizabeth Murdoch Sculpture Award (CSA), he also received a Nomination Award for the Beijing Olympic Park Sculpture Design Competition. His work is represented in private, corporate and public collections including Regional Galleries and Universities in Victoria. The artist is represented by Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne and BMGArt, Adelaide.

He was one of the resident artists for Rimbun Dahan’s residency in 2009, and did a short residency in Hotel Penaga in 2014.

Rimbun Dahan Artist Statement (2009)

danLately, I have been trying to reduce the clutter that inundates our lives. Whether its junk mail, email spam or just ‘things’ that build up over time in the bottom kitchen drawer, the backyard shed or those items that suddenly make their appearance when rifling through the wardrobe, closet, bookshelves or unopened boxes − throwing out is satisfying.

As a sculptor, clutter is a constant companion in the studio. I find it difficult to depose of anything that inhabits a sense of wonder and aesthetic potential – compounded by the fact that someday, it could form the basis of a new sculpture.

For the last five years or so, much of my practice has followed suit; whereby, my aim is to reduce and crystallise the essence of the form and thus the concept. It follows in the tradition of Minimalism – perhaps less of the ‘hard edge’ and more of the ‘organic’ type.

In this manner, the work is abstract, sometimes familiar and sometimes ambiguous in their final character. Stable and unstable, expanding and contracting, the forms may also suggest references to a secret and mysterious life form; one of less perplexity and in keeping with the forces of a self-ordering system of modular construction and organic unity.

As a sculptor, I am forever cognisant of the rich and marvellous history of both eastern and western sculpture traditions, and to that end, my small gestures and contributions to an expanding and vibrant culture and arguably, one of the most challenging disciplines in the visual arts.


Penaga Residency Artist Statement (2014)

During his stay, Wollmering will be researching and documenting architectural forms from a variety of sources in George Town − as a catalyst for new abstract sculpture. Using the rich and diverse cultural make-up of Penang and the built-environment structures emanating from Malay, Chinese and Indian influences, Wollmering will be locating and referencing unique constructs as a conduit to new sculptural forms in his practice. Using mainly cardboard and low-tech construction methods, he will be creating hypothetical sculpture maquettes with a chosen few being made in steel by a local sculpture fabrication firm in Penang. These new works will then be exhibited in the Penaga Hotel and at Flinders Lane Gallery; a commercial gallery in Melbourne that he has been exhibiting with since 1990.



Abdul Multhalib Musa

Abdul Multhalib Musa

'Sixty Turns', by Abdul Multhalib Musa, commissioned by Rimbun Dahan for Angela Hijjas' 60th birthday, and now part of the permanent collection.

‘Sixty Turns’, by Abdul Multhalib Musa, commissioned by Rimbun Dahan for Angela Hijjas’ 60th birthday, and now part of the permanent collection.

Artist’s Statement for Rimbun Dahan Exhibition

INTRODUCTION It is my intention to highlight in my work some of the issues related to

affecting everything that we perceive as tangible and implied, in an attempt to establish a complex relationship between art and architecture. When considering my work, it is necessary to be aware that current thinking suggests that each domain may be addressed in isolation from one another, and that academically there are perceptible similarities and differences between art and architecture. However, for me any distinctions are becoming more difficult to distinguish from what was preconceived. It is at this initially conceptual level that an intangible idea (re)shuffles between what can be classified as art and what architecture, and thus is materialized into the final body of work.

CONCEPTION Most of my work is derived from a sort of spontaneous, nonlinear, seemingly non-sequential contemplation between what could be and what exists, what is meant to be experienced and what is actually felt. It is from our surrounding natural and built environment, and consequently the interactions or lack of them, that we acquire knowledge and inform our thinking, and it is from others that we learn about the self and how to nurture any talent that God has given us. At this stage, I have come to perceive the self as a composite that is often contradictory and internally incomplete. Perhaps this is one way to relate to my work, in a sense that it is conceptualized and manifested in fragments and aggregates to reveal a certain personal characteristic that challenges the reader to engage with the work at various levels of interpretation.

CONFLICT It has been a struggle for me to envisage a three-dimensional non-planar composition such as a non-Euclidean design for a sculpture, which is represented on the two-dimensional plane in terms of plans, sections, and elevations. Even more difficult perhaps, is the need to acquire a sort of paradigm shift from thinking in terms of large-scale projects such as buildings, to a more subtle language that is better suited for a sculptural undertaking, much smaller in scale by comparison. Hence, the problem with physical models is that you can only do so many and while computer-aided designs are better for the diversified repetitive tasks, the form is only virtual and lacks the inherent property of the finished material to create a spatial-temporal relationship between the viewer and the work. These concerns have been an ongoing personal conflict and the result, whether successful or not, is apparent in the work. My undergraduate studies in architecture have undoubtedly molded a certain way of thinking in conceptualizing the physical body of the work.

PROCESS As a result of this particular way of thinking, the process of realizing an idea can be scrutinized as rather architectural in its approach, yet does not have the constraint architects normally face. It is said that one way of differentiating art and architecture is their different responses to objective requirements. Hence, if art is seen as speculative thinking, then what I am doing must be art by default since everything I do is conjectural and self-directed – though I am not implying that architecture is already art, or vice-versa. Consequently, I do not design the final works themselves, but am more oriented towards conceiving the possible relationship between solids and voids, which is more analogous to the notion of suggestive space. I prefer to consider this process as parallel to generating a conceptual system in order for the tectonic idea to be realized. This would result in the actual fabrication
being more feasible and practical in a sense that wastage of material is minimized and ease of fabrication is achieved, while still maintaining the desired result that was originally conceived.

DO-UNDO-REDO All of the possible generative sources are given adequate consideration during inception and this develops into a wide spectrum of architectural and artistic interpretation. Although difficult to describe, the work often begins from this infinite and productive intuition which is challenged and tested both physically and mentally. It then matures from the intangible realm of thought, propelled by its own internal energy, in an effort to consciously make something out of nothing. This is an iterative methodology of working and reworking an idea at various stages of the design development, and perhaps a feasible justification on the continuity of form that is apparent from one work to another. In a way, the coherence is a result of the consistent use of this repetitive method, which evidently is carried throughout the physical aspect of the work itself.

TECTONIC The works themselves are certainly ‘end products’ in their own respect. Basically, the final built objects are finite, well-defined, and are more or less free from the imperfections of the production process. Nevertheless, I still consider the works to be incomplete, schematic, trapped in the midst of their production, with potential to be further developed. Seen from this perspective, the work is left as if merely to engage other students and professionals within the field of art and architecture. However, as built and finished works they also have the opportunity to engage the public for whom they were meant and any subsequent unanticipated public. Therefore, the work is indeed offered with the intention of being read while addressing the reader with a multitude of interpretations, and to personally sustain the intellectual animation of the design process.



1976  Born in Pulau Pinang.

As a child, I was interested in drawing and won several competitions in Malaysia and overseas. The most recent and important being the Malaysian nominee and Asian finalist for the prestigious Oita Asian Sculpture Exhibition and Open Competition at the Fumio Asakura Memorial Park in Oita, Japan to be held in June 2002.

After secondary school, my interests broadened to theoretical thinking, science and engineering.  I studied architecture at the University of Adelaide, Australia and obtained a Bachelor Degree in Design Studies in 1996. I later obtained the Bachelor of Architecture with Honours at UiTM. I always longed to do fine arts while studying architecture and fortuitously an opportunity arose. I applied for the 2001 Rimbun Dahan Residency Program organized by Angela and Hijjas Kasturi at their residence at Kuang and was accepted as the Malaysian resident artist.

The year-long residency has revived my interest in fine arts and again in architecture, with a more serious conviction and undertaking. In my work, I attempt to highlight some of the issues related to space and temporality, the integration of technology and inspiration, truth and delusion, affecting everything that we perceive as tangible and implied, in an attempt to establish a complex relationship between art and architecture.

 1999-2000  Bachelor of Architecture (Hons.), MARA University of Technology, Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia
 1996-1998  Bachelor Degree in Design Studies, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
 Selected Group Exhibitions and Awards:
 2001  Artist in Residence Rimbun Dahan, MalaysiaMalaysian Nominee and Finalist ‘6th Oita Asian Sculpture Exhibition’ Open Competition, Fumio Asakura Memorial Park, Japan

‘Open Show’ National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur

‘Rimba Ilmu Nature Art Week’ University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur

‘Manusia’ NN Gallery, Kuala Lumpur

 1999  ‘Creative Craft Design’ Mid Point Shopping Centre, Kuala Lumpur’Tasik Kenyir’ Pengkalan Gawi Tourist Information Centre, Tasik Kenyir, Terengganu

Special Mention Prize ‘World-Wide Millennium’ Painting Competition, Winsor & Newton with Nanyang Art Supplies Sdn. Bhd., Kuala Lumpur

 1994  ‘Malaysian Wildlife’ Plaza Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur; Consolation Prize
 1993  ‘Old Kuala Lumpur’ Plaza Putra, Kuala Lumpur; Consolation Prize’Watercolour Competition & Exhibition’ Creative Art Centre, The National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur; Second Prize
 1991  ‘One World – No War’ City Hall, Kuala Lumpur; Consolation Prize’National Fire Prevention Week’ Galeri Shah Alam, Selangor; First Prize
 1990  ‘National Children’s Day Festival’Institut Bahasa, Kuala Lumpur1999 ‘Creative Craft Design’ Competition & Exhibition


Former Resident Artist Wins Gunnery Residency

Above: Abdul Multhalib Musa has been awarded a 3 month residency at the Gunnery Studios in Sydney from June to August, 2004, sponsored by the Australian High Commmission in Kuala Lumpur. Here Talib receives the award from H.E. Mr. James Wise, the Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia, at the Australian High Commmission on Friday 23rd April. The announcement of the award coincided with the posters from the urbanart2003 project being placed in the lobby of the High Commission for exhibition. All five artists on display have been resident at Rimbun Dahan: Chong Siew Ying, Noor Mahnun Mohamed, Wong Perng Fey, Ahmad Shukri Mohamed and Abdul Multhalib Musa. The website for this Melbourne Tram Shelter exhibition is www.vicnet.net.au/~urbanart/

Sustainable Architecture

Sustainable Architecture

by Angela Hijjas

Recently I was asked by a local architecture magazine to write about my house as an example of sustainable architecture. No investigation on the merits of this proposal was suggested, so I duly considered the salient points, knowing full well the outcome. If my home is considered a good example of where the building industry should be going, I hate to think what the general standing of sustainable development is in Malaysia.

Using the word ‘sustainable’ is always a bit suspect, as people apply it to justify something without really computing the environmental equation properly. The problem is extremely complex, and hinges on the materials chosen, the environmental cost in producing them and their life span. To do this properly, one needs to place a value on the natural environment, so that damage or loss is costed. If one were completely logical in computing a building’s total impact on the environment at large, then the only sustainable construction possible in Malaysia might be the Orang Asli solution of using biodegradable and short term materials. No hardwoods, no concrete, no steel, just build a new one every so often when the old begins to fail. In Australia, conscientious environmentalists build from rammed earth and hand made finishes from salvaged materials rather than new industrial ones.

I personally doubt that today’s contemporary architecture is sustainable, but acknowledge that some is more ‘environmentally friendly’ than others. In terms of domestic architecture, I look at my own home and see its many short comings in the eco-argument. It’s too big, it occupies a huge piece of land in a country where land and services are in short supply and it uses materials that devastated the environment from which they were extracted. The copper roof could well have come from the Freeport mines in Irian Jaya that are poisoning everything downstream. The concrete involves a cost in terms of lost limestone hills and caves with their fragile habitats, and the steel was made at huge energy costs that no one cares to compute in the environmental formula.

We did avoid using timber, but form-work had to be made, and the most ‘economical’ method was from plywood, made from our irreplaceable forest hardwoods. Teak parquet in some bedrooms was intended to relieve the use of ‘hard’ materials, and although no one would deny that timber is a beautiful material, it’s extraction from the forests of Burma is hardly sustainable. The inclusion of ‘standard’ features for the upper income group, like a swimming pool, tips the balance again. Chemicals such as chlorine are damaging, and are hard to justify for that occasional dip.

I love my home, but I have been trying to compensate ever since for the excessive use of resources that building it required. We moved here 11 years ago and ever since I have been filling it with artists and planting the rest of my 14 acres with as wide a range of indigenous forest species as I can find. I want to reaffirm a sense of place and cultural development in Malaysia, in the face of the devastation that commercial development brings.

In Malaysia, as in my native Australia, there may well be just one thing that we all share: this country’s land, its climate, its creatures, plants and landscape, its natural environment. This is the only thing that does not divide us from each other, and yet we embrace the foreign and diminish the local at every opportunity. My landscape design is creating a sense of place that no garden planted with heliconias and royal palms can match, even if I am the only one who recognises it.

But I diverge from the topic at hand. Now that the house is complete, it might be termed ‘environmentally friendly’ as it does not use a great deal of energy. We have little air conditioning and depend on through ventilation and ceiling fans. We have the usual overhangs for shade and pitched roofs for run off, and we are experimenting with ground tanks for water retention. We use pond water to flush some of the toilets and to water the vegetable plot during the increasingly common droughts, and therefore save on treated water from Jabatan Air. As well, from the huge storms that flood downstream, we retain water on site rather than draining it away as quickly as possible. Solar panels for heating water have been installed, but I am yet to be convinced that these are positive contributions as they have been replaced once already and the use of new materials and the disposal of the old ones are problems that skew the equation substantially.

I hardly think we make the cut, and know in my heart of hearts that the ‘life style’ that I enjoy and most aspire to is not sustainable. The machinery of the ‘market’, though, has reared us to believe that we are all entitled to aim for this, and that each new generation can expect to enjoy more than their parents did. Delusions, I fear.

The equations change, too, over time, and one should anticipate future trends in assessing whether something is really sustainable. For my home, if you discount the initial cost, at least most of the materials are long lasting and will endure, we are unlikely to change anything anytime soon. There is little that is fragile in the house, it copes with hard wear and I believe it will last at least as long as our kampong house from Parit. Rumah Uda Manap was restored because it is culturally important, but that’s another anthropomorphic equation that has little to do with environmental sustainability.

Made of hard wood and belian shingles, that house is another version of Malaysian architecture that would have been considered sustainable at the time it was built in 1901, if anyone had cared to compute. However, times change, our population has grown and natural resources are diminished, so what is regarded as sustainable now may not be so to future generations. Timber housed everyone in 1901, but it would be impossible now for all 22 million Malaysians to live in a timber house. In this case the escalation of timber prices shows that the hallowed market does indeed respond to resource shortages, but it still never computes the cost of lost trees and the damage inflicted on the forest, it merely tallies commercial shortages.

Surely sustainable development should be about building for now but without penalizing future generations, and not just generations of our own, but of all species.