Shadow Spirit in focus : Exhibition Designer, Peter King

Mon 24 July

Through a series written responses, Shadow Spirit collaborators take us deep into the exhibition's ideas and the expertise that helped bring these works together.

It took many hands and minds to make Shadow Spirit materialise. Peter King is the Exhibition Designer whose experience and know-how helped transform the paint-peeled grandeur of Flinders Street Station's disused rooms into a space where ambitious First Nations art from all over the country co-exists seamlessly. In his short essay he lets us in on the thinking that his role demands.


I had the privilege of developing the exhibition design for Shadow Spirit, beginning with my collaboration with the project team at RISING in November last year. As an exhibition designer, my work typically takes place in galleries and other purpose-built exhibition spaces. It’s been incredibly special having the opportunity to undertake a project in the iconic and storied Flinders Street Station, and to work with such an amazing group of artists—helping to bring their stories to life.

The concept design for Shadow Spirit began with listening and learning from the work that curator Kimberley Moulton had established over many months before I joined the project. Complex themes and ambitious artist projects had been brought together, with a good sense of how they should be grouped and navigated by visitors. One of my first steps was to analyse the spaces and spend time understanding the rooms on the station’s third level. This then enabled the schematic planning and visualisation for how the exhibition might be experienced.

Developing the exhibition design for Shadow Spirit involved working closely with each of the commissioned artists. This stage of works comprised many meetings and numerous conversations to understand each artist’s vision and translate it into a cohesive design that would resonate with visitors. One of the exciting moments in the project development was a workshop with a couple of the artists in Alice Springs. It was an opportunity to meet in person to hear their intention and aspiration for each of their projects first-hand. In this time together we were able to undertake rapid project development and record content that would eventually become part of the work.

As an exhibition designer, I thrive on the challenge of transforming concepts into tangible creations. For Shadow Spirit, this involved finding specialist fabricators who possessed the skills needed to make the exhibition come alive. Working hand-in-hand with makers, builders and other technical experts, my goal was to ensure that every detail aligned with the artistic narrative. Special thanks must go to my graphic design collaborator Madeline Critchley, who worked with me to develop the wayfinding and other communication graphics within the exhibition spaces. Collaborating with the wider project team was a constant dialogue, where my role was to bridge the gap between artistic intent and practical execution. Communication was key as we navigated material selection, logistics, and installation challenges together.

The opportunity to be a part of Shadow Spirit at RISING has been really transformational for me. I’ve met so many incredible artists and collaborators, who each brought their unique skills and expertise to the project and provided continued learning for me. Shadow Spirit is such an ambitious and captivating exhibition and will have a great legacy as it continues touring in the future. I’m really proud to have had a part in it.

Peter King. Image supplied.

Visit the Shadow Spirit stories page for more deep dives on how the exhibition came to be.

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