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Penelope Forlano installation marks a century of women’s achievement

Designer and artist Penelope Forlano is marking 100 years of women’s contributions to art, society and government with an installation in the Parliament of Western Australia.

Penelope Forlano installation marks a century of women’s achievement
Designer and artist, Penelope Forlano.

Designer and artist, Penelope Forlano.

With an extensive background in high-end interior architecture, Penelope Forlano knows aesthetics and design. Since opening her own design and art studio Forlano Design, she has worked on specific smaller projects in order to imbue these with a sense of intimacy and care that only comes from a careful eye and focus.

This careful considering paid to projects and objects lead to the creation of the Shield of Voices – now part of the permanent collection of the Parliament of Western Australia.

A unique, stainless steel work, the Shield of Voices recontextualises the old school ‘gentleman’s club’ style interior of the Parliament building and its association with its 1830s creation level of gender and class discrimination. Through reinterpreting the calling card silver tray of old – a formal place where men of deposited their calling cards requesting meetings with upper-class gentlemen – to serve as a feminist work of art, Penelope Forlano has created a unique and meaningful statement in the Parliament.

Designed in contemporary materials and processes, the piece reflects the 93 women Members of the Parliament of Western Australia, with the cards representing the diverse new views these women brought as participants to Western Australia’s democracy.

The oversized silver tray is now a permanent wall-mounted object in the Parliament, taking on a shield-like appearance – suitably conveying the collective strength and determination of the women is honours, celebrating their contribution over the last 100 years.

The piece continues the emotional and narrative explorations of personal and public meaning that have characterized Forlano’s work, and follows on from 2018’s Counterpoints piece.

Designed and sculpted as a response to the Bondi coastline for the 2018 Sculptures by the Sea exhibition, Counterpoints sees Penelope Forlano echoing both the universal and the local. The design of the piece is equal parts water droplet and stone spearhead – recognising the Aboriginal engravings nearby its original location. Through the universal design symbols of spearheads, water droplets and the nature of time, the work is suited to a range of locations and communities.

Shield of Voices by Dr Penelope Forlano is on permanent display in the Parliament of Western Australia.

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