17 May 2020



Video and Sculpture by Stephen Hennessy 

Window Exhibition, May 2020 

Shopfront Gallery, DiMase Architects,
342 St Georges Road, North Fitzroy until May 27th 

Reflections from a Modern Window…

I decided to take a tram down St Georges Road to scope the scene; the shopfront gallery there in their neighbourhood shopping strip. I imagined creating something situational, related to the place, factual and fictional all at once.

The virus had pretty much evacuated the street and inside a couple of architects were doing their bit still worrying about the built environment. In this time of too much reflection, I was looking for some action. Urban photography always gives more than you bargain for. In my case, ten minutes was all I needed to make hay out on the abandoned pavement.

I have long been interested in the shifting qualities of light that windows present and here we have a prime example of a glazed façade registering every passing movement and shift in daylight. The shopfront can be refigured as a grand reflector.

For this exhibition, I have made some new work to combine with a mirror sculpture and other devices (monitors) to bring you some urban rhythms based on window glass and the surprising wavelengths it yields. What passes gets involved; becomes the substance I was searching out. The window registers light and bounces back images. Reflections are part of a story so momentary that they escape the formal stillness of photography. Scores of repeated movements constantly graze the surface. Urban grit is not just pavement, bricks and mortar but the play of light and time – retreating and forwarding, stuttering and jumping. What I have here are primitive animations on a spectrum of no tech to low tech. Basic effects are applied to turn back time; repeat the moment causing a quick step and jolt, giving you a chance to see reflection in action.

I have reprised a sculpture piece from my 'Pieces for a Modern Wall' sculpture series (2004-2007) and repurposed it in this 'Piece for a Modern Window' situation. The mirror sculpture behaves like the video pieces in the way it fragments and splits what you perceive as reality. 'Triple angle spangle' is centred on the main shopfront window. Out on the street, if you happen to pass by on your fitness walk, you will see the shopping strip reconfigured as chopped up bits. Small angled mirrors bring in fragments of the adjacent street and repackage it as glimpses that do not make a full picture. Bits of the street are now items that flash and phantoms of passing traffic and the moving sun. As you move slightly the whole scene changes. Foot traffic and cars create linear reflection patterns and slippages. 

Two monitors to the left and right play out the 10 minutes I spent out front rebounded and played again the video images form dance-like routines. These screens also connect you to the city – back to Flinders St. From Flinders Street I shot Hosier Lane, famous for street art aplomb and recent paint bomb. At the time of animation, the lane was being serviced while the congregation shuffled about. 

I was interested in the small steps and repeated action that comes with this pilgrimage. Again, these moments are extended while time is held constant by the truck blinkers. White car and red car underscore the people movement and define the back and front of the lane. This piece makes a self-contained choreography from a single shot. The loop and fade take you right back and forth in a back beat you cannot lose.

'Deep space one and two' plays with long perspectives of north and south from North Fitzroy. By making sharp abutments of left and right views, the resultant pointy collage laughs at the actual flat linear nature of the North Fitzroy shopping strip. The collision of left and right long views culminates at the front door of the gallery. At the deep ends of the image, if you care to squint, a man waves mechanically and a couple jitter back and forth on the spot. So, we have a suspended space rendered in forced perspective in order to fabricate a drama of the empty street.

'Big tram bounce and boogie' is another animated photo collage using window reflection as a plausible but fictional movement event taking in the passing tram and elasticizing its arrival and departure. The dramatization turns the scene into a directional push and pull between north and south, suburb and city. The artist stands frozen like an Easter Island statue as the big vehicle engages in a rhythmic swipe back and forth across the surface of the shopfront. If you look carefully you will see the little finger of the frozen artist twitch the moment the shot was taken. The previous artist’s (Simon Linardi) sculpture in the window pieces are dragged into a new context…acting as bright spatial markers as a long song and dance routine unfurls – the tram bounces and slides behind a preposterous topiary ball big enough to disguise the switcheroo north – south commotion.

For 'Blue car - white car - cha cha', the inside of the gallery is invited to dance a passing car cha-cha. The meeting zone table is jolted, chairs are pushed back as the chance meeting of a white car and a blue car oscillate and stream without going far. The dance of cause and effect upends the juxtaposition of two similar images. 

Reflections in the picture glass of a Melbourne cityscape photograph are perforated as the local cars punch through. The previous sculpture in the gallery window and a parked car across the road again act as still points in this modest animation. The illusion here contained within the picture frame, is a direct result of double reflection through the shop glazing and off the picture glass.

I hope reading this takes no more than ten minutes and that the loop and bounce duration of these pieces for a modern window stays with you awhile. Over the course of the show, thousands of reflections will slide by the shopfront and the city will be made over in all the chance repetitions of daily life sadly missing in this time of crisis. 

As the city opens up again, all these reflections will submerge again; glazed over again and again as the crowded street moves. We maybe too busy to notice the amazing parallel optical world celebrated in these works.


Stephen Hennessy, May 2020

List of Works:
1. White car - red car -da da (video)
2. Blue car - white car - cha cha (video)
3. Big tram bounce and boogie (video)
4. Deep space one and tow (video)
5. Triple angle spangle (mirror sculpture)

With special thanks to Sian Tjia Hennessy for video format production.

Following images: Weekend viewers taking in my installation at 'Shopfront', DiMase Architects, 342 St Georges Road, North Fitzroy. On view day and night; mirror sculpture and video sequence looping and bouncing, 'Reflections from a Modern Window', on view until May 27th.

23 Aug 2018


Two years of intensive design and fabrication came to a close for SHAD with the launch of the newly refurbished Forum Theatre in Melbourne. Commissioned by the Marriner Group and Jackson Interiors, the brief was to update this distinctive venue, while respecting it’s unique style and history. 

SHAD studio worked on the re-modelling of three new bar areas in the main performance space. We designed a series of illuminated panels that 'concertina' across the front of each bar front in different configurations. SHAD also designed an illuminated artwork for new banquettes, which feature an emblematic 'gryphon' and custom font to identify each booth and table number.

In addition, we designed and made a rechargeable custom table lamp, which can be programmed by house lighting for special events and functions. The small lamp has an iconic shape, which is both contemporary and suggestive of earlier styles. The special SHAD-OCTO cut-out pattern used on inset folds of the bar-fronts was reworked for the double-sided shade of the lamp. The same pattern was used as a motif on feature display shelf units for the new bar, positioned strategically around the venue. 

25 Jan 2016


It's been several months since they were installed but we're still pondering the complex geometry and detailed assembly of the SHADLIGHT-OVAL Chandeliers ©. Four large-scale asymmetrical chandeliers were orientated to the corners of the room and set in sculpted coffers. A detailed non-repeating pattern of large 'dots' and 'dashes' (octagons and baguettes) play across two curtains of crystal that appear to crossover, dip and drape. Custom suspended lanterns, strategically placed, added greater illumination and created beautiful lighting effects. At 2000mm long x 1200mm wide with a drop of 950mm, they're impressive and substantial and yet still delicate and fresh. 

SHADLIGHT - OVAL Chandelier © 2015 - installation image

14 May 2015

SHAD unearthed

A large-scale mural I painted in 1987 for Cafe Maximus in St Kilda has been uncovered and returned to prominence by the restaurant's new owners. Approximately 12.5 metres long x 1.5 metres high, the mural was one of two commissioned for the restaurant by Alan Powell Architects. The other was by Roger Maloney. Running the length of the building they were a strong part of the restaurant's design. A tiled façade included sculptures by Peter D. Cole. I also designed two large sculptural lamps for the bar area. 

A young artist at the time, the mural was a late iteration of works started in 1982. I wanted to amalgamate my interest in the anatomical works of Vesalius with the dramatic silhouette studies in photographs and charcoal drawings I made while living in St Kilda. The fibrous trunks and bending branches of the trees were like the stripped cut-away bodies found in Renaissance woodcuts; the implicit humanism of the anatomical works became stylised and abstracted by 1986. Several of large-scale drawings made at this time were acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria and Monash University.

The mural for Cafe Maximus obviously took a different approach but the strong broad sweep of branch-like limbs are in this work too. What you get are not representations of St Kilda palm trees but four or five big intersecting curves which structure the composition of the mural. The leaping rhythms and stretched perspective of the Maximus mural suggest muscularity and life force overtaking any literal locality or landscape elements. The mural was designed to be dramatic and organic; a beautiful struggle of forceful elements. It is good to see it 'active' again!
The Maximus lights (no longer at the restaurant) were the first lights that I designed and made. I have since gone on to work at a much larger scale but the combination of art and design in the Café Maximus project continues to be a major characteristic of my practice.  

          Lona Pinxtos Bar, St Kilda.  Image courtesy of HotHouse Media & Lona Pinxtos Bar.

4 Feb 2015


A major design project, completed by SHAD in 2014, for the lobby of the new Crown Towers Hotel, City of Dreams, Manila was officially launched on 2nd February 2015. We designed two distinct chandelier types - one large central chandelier and four satellite chandeliers. The large timber sculptural forms work as signature pieces in the lobby space, providing indirect criss-crossing accents of light.

Project architects: Michael Fiebrich Design, Singapore

Image Courtesy of Michael Fiebrich Design

Image from CBN News

Special thanks to Aglo Systems. 

28 Jan 2015


The first SHAD ‘no-gami’ light sculpture was installed by the team late last year. One of several custom lightfittings designed for a partial refurbishment of the Melbourne offices of Clemenger BBDO by Powell Glenn Architects, the large white metal light-sculpture is suspended in the Atrium area from a black framework truss designed by the architects.  

The series plays with materials, scale, orientation and intrigue from all angles. Derived from experiments with cardboard models the no-gami light-sculptures play with solid planes and open space but instead of origami folds there are openings and lightly touching contact points.

Project architect: Powell & Glenn Architects

Stephen Hennessy Art & Design © 2015

27 Jan 2015


... are a suite of six sconces, each with a different detailed pattern.  

Approximately 35cm in diameter, the base of each sconce is made from a subtly contoured and asymmetrical form, over this we applied by hand a range of materials to make unique sculptural pieces. Interesting surface effects developed with the individual patterns we made, the choice of materials and some impasto medium. Custom made wall-brackets were designed to effectively position the sconce, provide maximum glow and a sculptural side view.  

We wanted to create something that could just as easily been formed or aged by nature - part fossil, part found object, part sculpture. Well received by both architect and client, they were beautiful and satisfying objects to make.

Project architect: Powell & Glenn Architects


Completed October 2014... a copper light sculpture (approximately 2700mm long x 900mm wide) for the new Gradi Pizzeria on Southbank. 

Forty eight handmade copper elements are suspended from mirror-finish stainless steel panels which reflect the hanging pieces and restaurant surroundings. Central lighting and secondary lighting accents are incorporated into a pattern of bowl and half-bowl copper shapes. Over time these elements will darken and become richer like antique implements. Positioned over a marble 'chef's table' the effect is formal yet dense, warm and playful; a mirror and copper mash up! 

Stephen Hennessy Art & Design Pty Ltd ©

Stephen Hennessy Art & Design Pty Ltd ©

19 Sept 2014


I visited Launceston for the first time recently to meet with a metal fabricator and was struck by the light and architecture. 
It held a denser atmosphere; golden, crisp and melancholy. Without looking too hard, blind windows, lateral reflections and refractions were everywhere. Tasmanian Victorian in sharp relief to the here and now.

Stephen Hennessy ©
Stephen Hennessy ©
Stephen Hennessy ©
Stephen Hennessy ©

29 Apr 2014


Recent SHAD project...

Completed March 2014, a large-scale glass window (approx 2400mm x 2400mm) for the Multi-Faith Room of the newly developed Carlton Wellbeing Precinct, Rathdowne Street, Carlton. The Precinct aims to combine aged care facilities with independent retirement living and greater community sociability. 

Project architects: Jackson Architecture.

Stephen Hennessy Art & Design ©
Stephen Hennessy Art & Design ©