Friday, October 15, 2010

Sculpture around town(s)

Sydney’s public sculptures have come alive in a highly colourful way courtesy of some rather fabulous dressing coordinated by Michelle McCosker. Working with the City of Sydney and us (International Conservation Services) she has dressed 8 of Sydney’s best known public bronzes in highly colourful ways as part of the Sydney Statues: Project!  My favourite is William Bede Dalley, a past Lord Mayor of Sydney of somewhat portly form, who is normally known as The Green Man due to the colour of the bronze. Now he looks as though he has walked off the set of the musical ‘Wicked’. Check out more on our blog "Sustaining your heritage".

But wait - there’s more. Our first Aussie saint, Mary McKillop (well almost – the formal sainthood is granted this week end by the Pope in Rome) is already commemorated with a new bronze outside St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney. I rather like it. It’s by Melbourne sculptor Louis Laumen.

And finally when I was in London last month I came across the latest Fourth Plinth sculpture which is an intriguing ship in a (plastic) bottle. Yinka Shonibare's Nelson's Ship in a Bottle, apparently celebrates both Nelson's success at Trafalgar and the postcolonial multi-ethnic mix and mingle of Britain today. The spot has become probably the hottest place to exhibit in international sculpture. A short list of 6 artists has just been selected, from which the sculpture to stand on the plinth during the London Olympics in 2012 will be chosen. "It's that time again," said London's mayor, Boris Johnson, "when the art world braces itself for a spurt of bold ideas for what is surely the premier public art spot in Britain. This is the chance for today's most exciting artists to create something in one of the most historic and traditional settings imaginable. We can only guess what they will come up with, but I have no doubt it will get everyone talking."

I am all for using empty plinths in this way. In 2007 we organised the NZ artist Michael Parekowhai to exhibit his ‘bouncer’ on the granite plinth in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney whilst its’ normal occupant, George Lambert’s Lawson Memorial was on loan to the National Gallery in Canberra.

The pictures below show Lawson in position, and then after dismantlement viewing with some disdain the usurping of his position by the bouncer.

Julian Bickersteth
Managing Director

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