Canberra has some weird public art pieces dispersed throughout the territory. But there are a few I like a lot.
This sheep on a chair is satirical salute to one of Canberra’s early pastoralists – James Ainslie, who came to the region in 1825. A sheep watches while the other one is sitting on an arm chair with its legs up, its jacket neatly folded on the side, reminds you of the politicians.
Canberra, Australia’s capital, is memorably known as “a good sheep paddock spoiled.”
Another one of my favorite in the city precinct is Bush Pack by Amanda Stuart, a pack of seven bronze dogs in three groups, that appear to be running down City Walk.
In a gully where a creek used to run, three overgrown Casuarina seed pods appear to have dropped out of a grove of Casuarina trees and to be rolling down the grassy slope. At night the seed pods are lit from within by a gentle fiber optic light. These bronze pods are by the artists Mathew Harding.
Another one of Mathew Harding I like is called Cushion for apparent reason. People often seen lounging in this large stainless steel cushion. A poem by Marion Halligan lies on scattered pages on the granite plinth below the cushion to form a tribute to Garema Place.
This bronze and copper sculpture by Keld Moseholm, called ‘On the staircase’ contrasts a series of small human forms with the architectural weight of an oversized staircase. The artwork has a philosophical aspect by reflecting on the effect of reading on the spirit – ‘the more I read the smaller I feel’.
This relatively new sculpture (commissioned in 2011) recreates an iconic photograph of John Curtin (1885-1945), Australia’s fourteenth Prime Minister (1941-45), and Treasurer Joseph Benedict (Ben) Chifley (1885-1951), who would become Australia’s sixteenth Prime Minister (1945-49). Curtin and Chifley routinely walked along this route to the Provisional (Old) Parliament House from the nearby Kurrajong Hotel – where Labor Members of Parliament generally stayed, while Parliament was sitting. Curtin and Chifley are two of Australia’s most respected Prime Ministers and they were strong supporters of the development of Canberra as the nation’s capital.
This is one is by far the best.
Known as The Parcel (by Alex Seton) looks real but is a carved illusion where an everyday object is transformed into an object of art. The artist has sculpted green and white marble to recreate a package with the creases and dents of a long journey. The contents are yet to be revealed.
More next time…