Melbourne artist Carla O’Brien is preparing to light up the Williamstown waterfront, with her popular Neon Dog Park light installation set to land at Commonwealth Reserve on Nelson Place, to provide plenty of fun over 10 evenings during the July school holidays.
Carla O’Brien loves Hobsons Bay and is no stranger to Williamstown, living across the water in Albert Park, visiting her Uncle Doug who lives locally, as well as enjoying one of the many things that attracts visitors to the wonderful waterfront.
“A summer highlight was some friends and I did a fantastic 40km round trip bike ride from my place, with our bikes across on the punt then up to Nelsons Place for fish and chips a beer and an ice cream,” said O’Brien.
A love for fish and chips, beer and ice cream possibly not as strong as her love for light installations, which O’Brien first discovered on a trip to the US in 2009, where it was love at first light.
“I went to the Burning Man festival in Nevada where large scale light art is one of the many fabulous facets. It impacted and inspired me and I decided then and there that I would like to be a Large Scale Light Installation Artist and now that’s what I do,” said O’Brien.
Self-taught in the medium of LED Neon Flex, a revolutionary plastic replacement for glass neon, O’Brien perfected her craft using a range of materials including perspex, wire mesh and corflute.
“For the Neon Dog Park, I created the concept and then made to scale paper stencils and gave these to Craig Bird who hand bends and welds all my metalwork. He is a Rockstar fabricator,” said O’Brien.
“Then I add the LED Neon Flex with zip ties and glue. It can be a laborious process to get it all to size and waterproof it. Not only does it have to be fun and look great, but safety is a huge factor when you have hundreds of thousands of people interacting with them.”
Neon Dog Park was installed at White Melbourne and White Night Ballarat earlier this year, quickly becoming a popular attraction for visitors, many of whom enjoyed the interactive features of the installation.
“So much enjoyment with dogs is throwing a ball, walking them on a lead, giving them a bone… so it was important to add these as interactive elements so people could create their own individual experience with the Neon Dogs,” said O’Brien.
“It’s really cute seeing people getting photos of their dogs with a Neon Dog and especially cute if it’s the same breed. Only thing I didn’t like was was I turned around at one point and saw a real dog peeing on a Neon Dog!”
O’Brien said every man and his dog is invited to the Neon Dog Park, but while owners are asked to monitor their pooches in the park, they should also be careful of where their own footsteps lead them.
“There will be a piece of Neon Poop! I was surprised but maybe I shouldn’t have been at how popular it was. There will also be a welcome neon archway to the Neon Dog Park featuring the word Williamstown.”
Neon Dog Park is the latest installation, but is just one of the many successful projects that have taken Melbourne artist Carla O’Brien to various cities around Australia, with Perth preparing to glow next.
“In June I am heading to the Brookfield Winter Lights Festival in Perth with some of my most popular pieces and some new ones. I have quite a few other festivals and events and you will also be seeing me on a very popular TV show later in the year,” said O’Brien.
Neon Dog Park will be featured nightly from Friday 29 June to Sunday 8 July at Commonwealth Reserve on Nelson Place in Williamstown. The opening night on 29 June will feature a DJ performance in the rotunda with other special events and activities.