Change Ahead: Gooseberry Hill artist’s sculpture makes mark in Bondi

Pannekoek recreates a scene from The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert aboard his Priscilla.
Pannekoek's Change Ahead in situ at Sculpture by the Sea Bondi. Picture: Clyde Lee, Sculpture by the Sea
Johannes Pannekoek, of Gooseberry Hill, stands next to his sculpture, Change Ahead, loaded on a trailer ready for the trip across the Nullabor. Picture: David Baylis
Pannekoek recreates a scene from The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert aboard his Priscilla. Pannekoek's Change Ahead in situ at Sculpture by the Sea Bondi. Picture: Clyde Lee, Sculpture by the Sea Johannes Pannekoek, of Gooseberry Hill, stands next to his sculpture, Change Ahead, loaded on a trailer ready for the trip across the Nullabor. Picture: David Baylis

TIME was approaching to tow her across the Nullarbor when Johannes Pannekoek’s award-winning sculpture, Change Ahead, morphed affectionately into Priscilla among the blokes helping him prepare it for Sculpture by the Sea Bondi.

Welder Lawson Fresher had the task of watering the steel structure every day to get the rust going for its spectacular orange look.

MORE: Sculpture by the Sea Bondi: Gooseberry Hill artist off to showcase work

“I’ve watered Priscilla four times today,” Fresher would say to the Gooseberry Hill artist, who had visions of recreating a moment from an Australian cult movie about travelling drag queens and their bus called Priscilla.

“I went to Spotlight and bought a 5m silver cloth and said ‘let’s do this’,” Pannekoek said.

He recreated the scene from The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert near the Nullarbor’s Bunda cliffs in “50km offshore winds” with the help of friend and co-driver Bastien Verslype and a backpacker who took a photo for posterity and to the later delight of the artist’s four daughters back home.

But Pannekoek never dreamed his Priscilla would take him to greater heights in Sydney.

“When I got there a couple of artists said ‘you’ve got a good chance of winning’ but I didn’t take any notice,” he said of his piece inspired by coursing water and change. “I brushed it off.”

Not expecting to win turned into a “crazy ride” for Pannekoek last week when he was announced the Sculpture by the Sea’s $60,000 prize winner. Change Ahead, acquired by exhibition sponsor Aqualand Australia, will now have a permanent home in Sydney.

“I will soon have meetings on siting the work somewhere on the North Shore I believe but I can’t confirm the position at this stage,” Pannekoek said.

“Anyway it’s simply fantastic that my name will sit beside many highly respected Australian and International artists.”

And no doubt he will come in for more commissions – like his recent work for the new Crown Tower Hotel in Burswood – and attention.

“I got to meet the producer of Priscilla, Rebel Penfold-Russell, at the artist party last night,” he told the Reporter from Sydney.

“She loved it; thought it was great what we did on the Nullarbor.”