Private Monument: Finalists of the International MONA Tapestry Design Award for Architects

Toby Beale, Stephen Brameld, Sally Farrah, Tasmin Vivian-Williams

Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products


Pier Vittorio Aureli wrote on the complex etymology of the term monument: ‘from monumentum which means to remember, to commemorate. Yet this word is derivative of the verb monere (to admonish), the etymological root of the word monster – an exceptional form, and a species of one individual’. Where most international galleries exist in the centre, MONA sits on the periphery, growing out of its site at the edge of an embankment and river. MONA is an exceptional form of art institution and thus both monument and monster. However, the Pharos wing’s architecture inspired by Étienne-Louis Boullée’s monuments to death, and the art it contains – Jean Tinguely’s monument to memory, and James Turrell’s monument to light - all speak a geometric and monumental language. We felt Pharos needed a monster.

We explored architectural theoretical means to artistic ends. Marco Frascari has described anthropomorphism in architectural form as ‘monsters’. Architecture and tapestry are both crafts, but our design celebrates their differences. Unlike architecture which utilises physical depth, we perceived the unique characteristics of tapestry as its ability to allude to depth through the weaving of tones; and its ability to depict ‘plan’ and ‘elevation’ views simultaneously. These qualities of tapestry allow a monster, and not the monumental, to exhibit many scales of perception from several viewpoints.

Our design pays homage to the concept of monument by inferring a marble texture through wet satin. We began with a nude, subverting art history’s predominantly male gaze, by draping and photographing a man. Although the satin appears marmoreal, it behaves in a different material manner, creating monstrous softness, creases, and folds. We enhanced this texture by ripping and rescanning the image, which also mimics the surface nature of tapestry. This process reduced the body’s iconography to showcase the strengths of tapestry - tonality, ambiguity, and scales of perception.

References -
Pier Vittorio Aureli, ‘The Monument and the Field’, OASE 97 (2016), 34.
Marco Frascari, Monsters of Architecture: Anthropomorphism in Architecture (Savage, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1991).
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMelbourne, Victoria
PublisherAustralian Tapestry Workshop
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


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