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Tag Archives: Loretta Quinn

Southgate Sculptures

Southgate on Southbank was one of the first shopping centres in Melbourne to commission notable sculptors to create a collection of public art for the centre. Positioned right next to the Arts Centre, it is on the border of Melbourne’s arts precinct but it is still a shopping mall; there is a food court at the river level. This means that however good the restaurants and however classy the specialty shops, including those that call themselves art galleries, there is a certain kind of homogenised taste that goes with a shopping mall.

Deborah HepbernOphelia

Deborah Halpern, Ophelia, 1992, concrete and ceramic, crowded out by outdoor dinning.

I have looked at shopping centre art before; Barkely Square Shopping Centre in Brunswick and Melbourne Central in the city.  There is more I have yet to see Robert Hague West Orbis (2009) four metre tall sculpture at Chadstone Shopping Centre or the Lenton Parr sculpture at another.

DSC01505

At Southgate the main problems has been with the placement of the art. Sitting alone upon her own dusty inaccessible balcony is Loretta Quinn’s ‘Crossing the First Threshold.’ This is a bad case of dumping a sculpture in a poor location. Hardly anyone notices this sculpture and it has been reduced to being a bird roost. Not surprisingly, Loretta Quinn is better known for her sculpture at the city square.

DSC01500Maurie Hughes’s spiky style is evident in Southgate Sheraton Complex Gates, Forbidden Areas, 1992. I have never seen the gates closed so I don’t know how forbidden the area behind them is but the gates are pretty spiky with the demons and spears. Hughes is best known for his sculpture Ceremony and Vehicle for Conveying Spirit on Russell Street but he also has a few other public art commissions including the Security Gates, 1994, Lincoln Square South in Carlton. Hughes has his home and studio in South Melbourne and taught at art department at Frankston’s TAFE.

DSC01499Ophelia by Deborah Halpern is part of the Southgate complex although it is now located closer to the river than it once was, see my post about its move. It is made of ceramic tiles over a fiberglass core and was cleaned and restored in 2011 when it was moved to its current location but it looks like it could do with another restoration.

There used to be a sculpture on the upper level mall, the seated figure of a woman, Maggie by Peter Corlett was made of ciment findu, a type of calcium aluminate cement. It was vandalised beyond repair. Public art is not safe even with the security in shopping centres. This brings together two issues, the placement of the art to allow public interaction and to prevent damage to the work from this contact.

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Swanston Walk Sculptures

With the transformation of Swanston Street into a semi-pedestrian district in 1992 came new public sculptures. A precursor to the pedestrian district was a weekend stunt of grassing in the street in 1985 for Victoria’s 150th birthday celebrations. 11,000 square metres of grass was laid from Flinders Street to La Trobe Street.

The Melbourne City Council hadn’t commissioned a sculptor since the ill-fated Vault (aka The Yellow Peril) a decade earlier. The sculptures were funded through a variety of sources there was a Street Walk Public Art Project fund the commissioned some sculptures and temporary art, Percent for the Arts (1% of the total redevelopment budget) funded other sculptures and Nauru funded one sculpture. Fortunately there were no controversies this time and the public either loved or ignored the new sculptures.

Melbourne’s art eduction had not produced enough local sculptors in Melbourne to fill all the commissions. Many of the sculptors who produced work for the Swanston Walk were not born in Melbourne but were recent arrivals from interstate, Japan, Sri Lanka, Holland and the USA.

Petrus Spronk, Architectural Fragment, 1992

Petrus Spronk, Architectural Fragment, 1992

On the corner of Swanston and La Trobe Streets is “Architectural Fragment” 1992 by Petrus Spronk. The bluestone sculpture was commissioned as part of Street Walk Public Art Project and installed in 1993. Spronk was born in Holland, immigrated to Australia in 1957 and trained as a ceramicist and sculptor in South Australia.

The steel and jarrah seat near the corner of Swanston and Little Lonsdale Streets is  “Resting Place” 1994 by Bronwyn Snow. It was funded through Percent for the Arts.

Edward Ginger “The Echo” 1997

Edward Ginger “The Echo” 1997

There were delays to commissions. “The Echo” by Edward Ginger was commissioned in 1992 but its fabrication and installation were delayed due to a lack of sponsorship. It was completed in 1996 and unveiled for Chinese New Year 1997 on the corner of Swanston and Little Bourke Streets.

Born in 1951 in Sri Lanka Edward Ginger arrived in Australia in 1975. After completing his studies at the College of Fine Arts, Sri Lanka Ginger undertook further studies in sculpture and printmaking at RMIT.

On the corner of Swanston and Little Collins Streets is “Time and Tide”. “Time and Tide”, 1994 by Akio Makigawa is a bluestone, white marble, bronze and stainless-steel sculpture, 1994 (Percent for Art Program)

At the intersection of Bourke and Swanston high on top of tram poles, turning on the wind are four animals. Made of hand-beaten copper sculpture with gold-leaf detail there is a bird, a horse, a fish and a pig with wings. The bird is a reference to the city’s gardens; the horse symbolises sport; the fish its waterways; and the winged pig a joke about the city’s hope and future.

The “Weathervanes” 1993 are by jeweller, Daniel Jenkins. Born in America in 1947 Jenkins studied art at Georgia Southern College. He moved to Australia in 1981 with his wife where they established a jewellery workshop and a retail outlet. Jenkins received an honourable mention at the 1984 Ornament Jewelry International Competition. In 1984 the NGV acquired a copper, silver (laminated) brooch c.1984 by Jenkins and in 1988 a steel walking stick (1988).

Alison Weaver & Paul Quinn, “Three businessmen who brought their own lunch; Batman Swanston and Hoddle”

Alison Weaver & Paul Quinn, “Three businessmen who brought their own lunch; Batman Swanston and Hoddle”

On the corner of Swanston and the Bourke Mall is “Three Businessmen Who Brought Their Own Lunch: Batman, Swanston and Hoddle” (aka “Metal Men”) 1993 by Alison Weaver and Paul Quinn. It was a gift from Nauru even though it had already been commissioned by the City of Melbourne. The much-handled hand of the first of the businessmen had broken off sometime in 2013 but has now been reattached with an internal steel armature reinforcing it.

In the City Square near the corner Swanston and Collins Streets and the Burke and Wills Memorials by Charles Summers. Further up Collins Street there is “Larry LaTrobe” 1992 by Pamela Irving, a small bronze sculpture, 1992 (Percent for the Arts)

At the City Square on the corner of Swanston St & Flinders Lane a bronze sculpture on granite plinth, “Beyond the Ocean of Existence”, 1993 by Loretta Quinn. Quinn was born in Hobart and studied sculpture at the Tasmanian School of Art before going on to further studies at the Victorian College of the Arts.

There are few great works of art on Swanston Walk; the sculptures are often frivolous, quirky and irreverent and these are the most popular sculptures for the people walking the Walk.


Stolen & Restored Statues

In 2010 thieves stole Loretta Quinn’s sculpture “Within Three Worlds” from Princess Park stolen using an angle grinder to cut the bronze statue off at its feet. Now, in 2011, new edition of the statue has been cast and it has now been installed in its original location.

Loretta Quinn “Within Three Worlds” 1995 original

Loretta Quinn “Within Three Worlds” 1995 restored

The new version of “Within Three Worlds” is different from the original, almost completely different but the three boats in the pond are still original. The new statue is better than the original, it is less clunky, the shoes, hands and dress are more detailed and the hair curves more elegantly. Most obvious difference is that the new statue has a green finish on the dress and shoes. It has also been moved a metre closer to the pond.

It is good to see the statue back and the restoration of the stolen has been completed with refilling of the ornamental pond that it is located beside (the pond was dry due to a prolonged drought in Melbourne). The statue is dedicated to the memory of Angela Jane Esdaile (1969 – 1993) and commemorates the contribution to the community of childcare workers like Angela. (See my blog post about the Missing Statue.)

Stolen public sculpture in Melbourne receives little attention, as Melbourne’s public is more interested in an art scandal than an art theft. The bronze dog, “Larry LaTrobe” was stolen from the city square in 1995. The current “Larry LaTrobe” is another edition courtesy of Peter Kolliner, the owner of the foundry where the original was cast. The regular theft of the hammer from “The Pathfinder” by John Robinson, 1974 in the Queen Victoria Gardens required that the replacement be unscrewed every night. The recurring theft of the hammer from the statue became such a problem that the hammer is now rarely installed (or has the replacement been stolen?).

None of these stolen statues have been recovered; it is unfortunate but these bronze sculptures were probably stolen for the scrap metal. This was probably the fate of the 1m metal statue of Christ stolen from a Templestowe Church in August 2010 reported in Manningham Leader. The only stolen public sculpture that has been recovered is “the boy with the turtle” (artist unknown c.1850) that was stolen in 1977 from Fitzroy Gardens and recovered two and a half years later abandoned in a Richmond carpark. It was saved because it is only made of cement and cement has little intrinsic value.

An English fantasy illustrator told me that he’d returned home to find that his flat was being burgled. The two burglars bailed him up and asked if he’d done the art; he told them it was his and they complimented him on his art and left taking nothing. The Marius-Jacob gang went even further on discovering that they had broken into the house of a French poet they left money to replace the pane of glass that they had broken. Robbing artists or stealing public sculpture for scrap metal lacks any dignity as a crime, like stealing from charity bins.


Missing Statue

Loretta Quinn “Within Three Worlds” 1995 in memory of Angela Jane Esdaile (1969 – 1993) was located by a pond at the north end of Princes Park in Princes Hill, near the intersection of Royal Parade and Park St. It is has gone now; I haven’t been able to find out any more information, so I assume that it has not been stolen but removed by city council. If anyone knows the reason for its removal please leave a comment. (So much for my assumptions, it was stolen. See Lorretta Quinn’s comment for more details.)

Loretta Quinn “Within Three Worlds” 1995

This whimsical bronze sculpture of a little girl with her hair blown back is typical of Quinn’s sculpture that frequently feature children. The little girl was once looking at three metal boats that were earlier removed from the now empty pond. The pond being empty due Melbourne’s long running drought and subsequent water shortages. The sculpture was paid for by Angela’s family and commemorates the contribution to the community of childcare workers like Angela.

I was going to write a longer entry about the whimsical little statues in some of Melbourne’s gardens but since this statue has now gone I thought that I should post this short entry as a reminder.


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