1. Fire, 1988, Mixed media, 172 x 124 x 28 cm, Latrobe Regional Gallery Collection, purchased with assistance of the Sydney Myer Foundation, 1988.
Peter Cole is an artist working in sculpture, based in Venus Bay, Gippsland, for many years. Originally from Bairnsdale, East Gippsland, the rural Landscape and his experiences associated with the place are woven into the stories that can be read within Cole’s work.
When found objects and castaway materials are used in an artwork, the purpose and the life of the material implicates the concepts explored within the work. Cole’s sculptures are assemblages of wood in broken pieces and salvaged offcuts from things that are at the end of their functional journey. Wood, as a material, has a personal significance to Cole, whose father was a boat builder.
The sculpture Fire, shown in the touring exhibition Contemporary Gippsland Artists (1990 – 1992), is representative of Cole’s fusion of forms. Often incorporating elements of birds, animal and human figures, Cole creates hybrids that do not reference one concept but are left open to the viewer. In his practice, the totemic stylisation expresses Cole’s reaction to oppression in political, social and personal contexts. This perspective could be interpreted in Fire through the overall aggressive shape of the work and the collage of imagery such as a plane, gun, shark, or animal of prey.
Cole’s work has stylistic associations to the art of other cultures, such as that of Mexico and South America, which have been an influence through the extensive travel he has done for research and source material.
Cole studied at the Prahran College of Advanced Education. He taught in both Secondary and Tertiary institutions throughout his career, including in the sculpture department at the Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education from 1978 – 1982. Cole’s work is held in collections both in Australia and internationally.