Artists Ken and Julia Yonetani will transform gold thread in to a giant pyramid for the Biennale of Australian Art

GOLD: Artists Julia and Ken Yonetani with the 24 carat gold thread they will transform in to a giant pyramid at the Eureka Centre for the Biennale of Australian Art. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric
GOLD: Artists Julia and Ken Yonetani with the 24 carat gold thread they will transform in to a giant pyramid at the Eureka Centre for the Biennale of Australian Art. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

A giant golden pyramid made of 24 carat gold thread representing the volume of gold exported from Victoria during the goldrush will gradually appear in the Eureka Centre over the coming weeks.

The giant work, measuring about five metres in diametre and five metres high, will be made from 3000m of gold thread and the minds of internationally-renowned artists Ken and Julia Yonetani for the upcoming Biennale of Australian Art.

The couple began their two-week art installation in the Tower Room of the Eureka Centre on Monday – the first BOAA work to begin installation.

​The couple, described as “rock stars” of the art world and among the biggest names to be exhibiting at BOAA, flew in from their home in Japan and got straight to work.

Where some artists work with brushes and palettes, the Yonetanis had ladders and scissor lifts out for the first day of their artistic creation.

“The site-specific installation will be made out of 24 carat gold thread in the shape of a pyramid which will be the same volume and size as the amount of gold exported from Victoria during the 10 years of the gold rush,” Ms Yonetani said.

“We make it out of thread as a symbol that gold got taken, it’s not here any more, so the idea of the thread is that it’s ephemeral.”

“I’m a historian and Ken is really interested in environmental issues, so wherever we go and whatever project we do we often draw on the history and environmental issues because we like to be as site-specific as we can.”

Although both born in Japan, the couple lived for many years in NSW which they will represent during the six-week BOAA festival. They are among 150 artists from across Australia exhibiting at BOAA, with each state and territory being equally represented alongside Ballarat artists as a “ninth state”.

They returned to live in Japan because it was more central for their global careers. The couple regularly exhibit in Europe, Asia and North America as well as Australia.

Two years ago the couple held a solo show at the National Gallery in Canberra, and Mr Yonetani represented Australia at the Venice Biennale in 2009.

BOAA director Julie Collins said artists from across the country had been completing final site visits in various Ballarat venues ahead of their work being displayed next month.

“For me the most exciting part will be seeing the way people respond when they finally see the scale and breadth of what BOAA is,” Ms Collins said. “It will be a whole town experience.”

The Biennale of Australian Art runs from September 21 to November 6.