Signature Public Artwork Set to Illuminate Yarrila Place

Published on 14 February 2022


Following a national call out for artists to create a signature public artwork for Yarrila Place, a selection panel has chosen contemporary artist Emma Coulter and her winning concept.

Coulter’s winning submission Let them feel the light is a multi-coloured site-specific sculpture of coloured glass and aluminium that will extend across the large, three story wall in the centre of the building’s atrium.

Emma Coulter describes how the inspiration for the upcoming work in Coffs Harbour is the idea of light refracting on the surface of the water and dispersing into colour.

“Coffs Harbour’s subtropical, surf coast location and historical lighthouse are each interpretive elements. The planned work will form a lantern at the heart of the new cultural centre, creating coloured patterns and shadows.”

By night, artificial LED lighting will illuminate the artwork from within, creating a spectrum of coloured light. Through the use of colour and geometry, the artwork will be a source of wonder and community landmark, changing across day and night as time interacts with the surface of the work.

Coffs Harbour Gallery & Museum Curator, Joanna Besley said the concept from Emma Coulter is captivating and inspiring.

“Not only does this artwork beautifully capture the meaning of the Gumbaynggirr word ‘yarrila’ – to illuminate and brighten – but it is a bold statement about optimism and how this new building signals Coffs Harbour’s bright future.”

It is expected that the work, along with artworks by local Gumbaynggirr artists, will be completed by October 2022.

Artists were assessed by Independent Arts Management and the Cultural and Civic Space Project Team, based on a number of criteria such as originality of concept, visual connection to site, previous experience and response to artist brief.


Emma Coulter

  • Emma Coulter is a successful mid-career artist who has been awarded several grants, prizes and major public art projects across Australia
  • Pictured above is her 100-metre commission that wraps the Metro Tunnel's building facade in central Melbourne, titled spatial deconstruction #23 (resilience), 2021 to 2022
  • Examples of her previous works can be found on her website.