Ever wondered how many sculptures are surrounding the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art? We have compiled our precinct Sculpture Walk highlighting the 10 fascinating artworks by leading Australian and international artists. The walk is a delightful way to explore the works at your leisure at any time.
Even before the Queensland Art Gallery opened in its new permanent and purpose built home at South Bank in June 1982, the provision of artworks for public areas around the precinct was recognised as an integral part of the Queensland Cultural Centre. It was to be the first time that a major grouping of Australian sculptures were simultaneously commissioned to have a harmonious relationship with their surrounding environment.
From an original selection of nine possible locations, a final five locations were approved. In August 1983, artists throughout Australia were invited to register their interest with 69 responding, of those, 26 were asked to provide a more detailed proposal for their chosen locations and finally in April 1984 five artists were announced and the series was installed by May 1985.
Since the Gallery of Modern Art opened in 2006, public art has gradually been commissioned to surround the site, continuing the vision begun for the Queensland Art Gallery.
Queensland Art Gallery
- Offshoot: A painted aluminium abstract by Clement Meadmore positioned at the entrance to the Queensland Art Gallery plaza.
- Pelicans: Five cast bronzes by artists Leonard Shillam and Kathleen Shillam for the Queensland Art Gallery Water Mall, Melbourne Street forecourt.
- Sisters: Two bronze figures by Ante Dabro, located on the Queensland Art Gallery’s Melbourne Street forecourt.
- Leviathan Play: An abstract painted steel sculpture by Ron Robertson-Swann on the Queensland Art Gallery’s Melbourne Street forecourt.
- Approaching Equilibrium: A large painted steel abstract by Anthony Pryor positioned on the upper Queensland Art Gallery plaza.
Clement Meadmore ‘Offshoot’
Clement Meadmore is known for his powerful welded sculptures, he used steel or aluminum to create his colossal outdoor sculptures. His works typically involve a rectangular form that dynamically twists and moves through space, exploring the expressive potential of geometry. Offshoot 1984 denies its physical reality, its simple but elegant volume freed from gravity.
Leonard and Kathleen Shillam ‘Pelicans’
Leonard Shillam and Kathleen Shillam created life-size statues to place. Their sculpture relates directly to their observation of nature, with the aim to go beyond reality, bonding the physical with the spiritual. Pelicans 1984 are a grouping of five pelicans which patiently sit in the Queensland Art Gallery’s Water Mall, the bronzes can be viewed from the Gallery’s Melbourne Street forecourt or more closely observed from within. Their creative endeavors relate directly to their observation of nature, the aim to go beyond reality, bonding the physical with the spiritual.
Study for Pelicans
Ante Dabro ‘Sisters’
Figurative sculptor Ante Dabro’s life-size Sisters 1985 featuring two figures in quiet introspection adds to the tradition of the exploration of the possibilities in representing the human form. His works executed in bronze are based in European artistic traditions.
Ron Robertson-Swann ‘Leviathan Play’
Ron Robertson-Swann is best known for his Cubist inspired abstract welded steel sculptures, often painted in bright colours. Robertson-Swann describes his sculpture as drawing in space and Leviathan Play 1985 balances volume to guide the viewer through and into the work.
Anthony Pryor ‘Approaching Equilibrium’
Anthony Pryor described Approaching Equilibrium 1985 as exhibiting ‘the condition of equal balance between opposing forces… an equality of importance or effect among the various parts of a complex unity. The sculpture is like a loose drawing in space , however it’s actually in a state of physical balance, this is the process of approaching equilibrium’.
Gallery of Modern Art
Our second site the Gallery of Modern Art, located on Kurilpa Point — only 150 metres from the Queensland Art Gallery — opened in December 2006. The new building more than doubled the Queensland Art Gallery’s size, and since then, five artworks have been installed to enhance the existing public art.
- The High/ Perpetual Xmas, No Abstractions: A 10-metre high Gold Coast‑type signage sculpture by Scott Redford erected at the forecourt to the Gallery of Modern Art.
- Bodhi Tree Project: A living installation Bodhi tree with six marble seats that echo the heart-shaped leaves of the tree by Lee Mingwei is a focus for gathering and contemplation outside the GOMA Store.
- tow row: A cast bronze sculpture reimagination of a traditional fishing net used by Aboriginal people by Judy Watson at the entrance to the Gallery of Modern Art.
- The World Turns: A bronze five-metre high elephant and a nonchalant kuril by Michael Parekowhai take over the stretch of lawn between the Gallery of Modern Art and GOMA Bistro.
- We are shipwrecked and landlocked: Three white coated aluminium Cubist inspired trees by Martin Boyce at the gateway to the Kurilpa Bridge outside the western precinct of the Gallery of Modern Art.
Scott Redford ‘The High/ Perpetual Xmas, No Abstractions’
What others may call kitsch, Gold Coast artist Scott Redford sees as embodying a complex history and identity. Redford’s ‘Proposals’ series of sculptures examine and celebrate the Gold Coast as a remarkable phenomenon in late modern architecture and design in Queensland. In 2006, the Gallery acquired the artist’s Proposal for a Surfers Paradise public sculpture/Paradise now 2006. Subsequently, a second work from the series, titled The High/ Perpetual Xmas, No Abstractions 2008 was fabricated as a 10-metre high sculpture and erected at the forecourt to the Gallery of Modern Art where it flashes neon into the night.
Lee Mingwei ‘The Bodhi Tree Project’
During the development of the Gallery of Modern Art in 2006, a work was commissioned from Lee Mingwei for the front of the Gallery — The Bodhi Tree 2006 — is an ambitious, living artwork, and resulted in a sapling descended from the sacred Bodhi Tree in Sri Lanka, the oldest species of tree to be depicted in Indian art and literature. Mingwei creates works which forge a direct connection between the artist and audience and his Bodhi Tree Project is intended as a focus for gathering and contemplation and as a work that continues to evolve in its engagement with community, memory, nature and culture. The tree was planted in 2008 and stands alongside six marble seats that echo the heart-shaped leaves of the Bodhi, designed by Mingwei and carved from Chilagoe marble by Queensland artist Paul Stumkat.
Judy Watson ‘tow row’
Judy Watson’s impressive cast bronze sculpture, tow row 2016 is a reimagination of a traditional fishing net used by Aboriginal people on the Brisbane River. The nets, locally known as ‘tow row’, were used to scoop up fish near the banks of the river, or to catch entire schools of fish in smaller creeks, where fishermen would stand midstream during the dropping tide, trapping the fish. The importance of the correlation between past, present and future is acknowledged by Watson, by creating this contemporary public sculpture, Watson enables us to glance at the history of the site.
DELVE DEEPER: Experience Judy Watson’s ‘tow row’ in digital reality
RELATED: The story of Judy Watson’s ‘tow row’
Michael Parekowhai ‘The World Turns’
Michael Parekowhai is known for the use of wry humour and his skilful combination of popular culture, art, literature and history. The World Turns 2011–12 is a witty bronze sculpture which comprises a five-metre elephant bookend turned on its side, and don’t miss the kuril (illustrated), the native marsupial water rat significant to the dreaming of local Aboriginal people, and, at the periphery of the stretch of lawn, a solitary chair for you to sit and contemplate.
Martin Boyce ‘We are shipwrecked and landlocked’
Martin Boyce’s three Cubist inspired trees are nestled within nature waiting to be discovered — a hidden gem outside the western precinct of the Gallery of Modern Art and the gateway to the Kurilpa Bridge which connects Kurilpa Point to Tank Street in Brisbane’s CBD. Boyce re-imagines twentieth-century Modernism through his sculptures and installations, which rework and give new life to modernist forms of art, architecture and design. We are shipwrecked and landlocked 2008-10 was inspired by a photograph of a group of four concrete Cubist trees designed by French sculptors Joel and Jan Martel in 1925.
DELVE DEEPER: Martin Boyce re-imagines twentieth-century Modernism