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Tag Archives: Andrew Rogers

Public Sculptures @ Arts Centre Melbourne

In the shadow of the landmark architecture of the Art Centre’s spire Inge King’s Forward Surge stands between curves of Hamer Hall and the Art Centre. Children try to climb this sculpture by Melbourne’s matriarch of modernism, trying for a moment to surf these four massive black metal waves. Forward Surge is one of the many significant number of public sculptures, many by notable local sculptors, like King, in the grounds of Hamer Hall, the Art Centre and also at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.

Inge King, Forward Surge 1972-74 (4)

Inge King, Forward Surge 1972-74

Now there is an exhibition about these public sculptures; “Sculpture Show: Public Art in the Arts Precinct” is displayed in the curved ‘Gallery’ that runs along the outer wall of the Arts Centre. The exhibition features four maquettes, the scale or working models for a sculpture, a few preliminary drawings and photographs of the sculptures by Mark Ashkanasy and Carla Gottgen. This was rounded out with a new series of drawings of some of the sculptures by Melbourne artist, Jill Anderson present new views of these familiar sculptures.

Amongst the preliminary drawings there are three drawings for a proposed but never completed hanging sculpture by the trio of Melbourne sculptors; Anthony Pryor, Geoffrey Bartlett and Augustine Dall’Ava. Although the three sculptors shared a studio in Fitzroy but collaborative works are rare. The drawing depicts a crazy mobile with pulleys, springs, weights and mini mobiles hanging off larger beams. Parts resemble Bartlett’s “Messenger” 1983 that once stood in the NGV’s moat.

Many of the sculptures around the Arts Centre have moved over the years as their surrounds have been redeveloped. Several of the photographs in the exhibition, especially those of interior sculptural elements in the buildings, reminded me how much has changed. Cole Sopov’s Family of Man has changed from interior to exterior sculptures. Even the five tons of Meadmore’s Dervish has been moved.

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maquettes for Clement Meadmore Dervish, painted wood

After looking at the exhibition I went out into a little sculpture park at the back of the Arts Centre where Les Kossatz’s sheep are still Coming and Going 1979-82, in their comedy routine of doors. The sheep are kept company by an odd trio of sculptures; Tom Merrifield’s tribute to Anna Pavlova, Dragonfly 1988, Anthony Pryor’s Marathon Man 1991 and Andrew Rogers’s Rhythms of Life.

Andrew Rogers’s Rhythms of Life once stood on the river front side of Hamer Hall but this area has been taken over for more eateries. (It is not the only public sculpture along the Yarra River that has been moved to accomodate more dining areas; Deborah Halpern’s Ophelia was also moved for the same reason.)

To complete the experience I should have continued on to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl where there is the sculpture of Sidney Myer by Michael Meszaros, Carl Milles’ Hand of God and Pino Conte’s Miraggio.

I have previously written blog posts about David Maughan’s Les Belle Helénès, as well as the sculptures of Pino Conte and Cole Sopov. I have also written blog posts about the sculptures of Geoffrey BartlettInge King, Anthony Pryor and Andrew Rogers.

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Andrew Rogers Sculptural Sequence

Starting from zero, Andrew Rogers was an amateur painter.

One. He started making sculpture based on the human form. Nothing remarkable, the last of his figurative sculpture is a public sculpture, City Living, 1996 in West Melbourne.

Andrew Rodgers City Living, 1996

Andrew Rogers, City Living, 1996

Zero plus one.

One. Again, and again Rogers makes sculptures, this time abstract.

Andrew Rogers Rythems of the Metropolis, 1996

Andrew Rogers, City Living, 1996

One plus one.

Two. More editions of sculptures and growing complexity of techniques and materials. Becoming a full-time artist was not a big life changing decision just “something that I grew and enjoyed over time.”

One plus two.

Three. Moving on to something new, land art. He continues to make bronze sculptures, each one building on the previous work. His ‘geoglyphs’ are giant drawings with piles of rocks in sixteen countries on every continent on earth. In his land art Rogers works with local artisans and craftsmen, taking a material that they normally build with and creating abstract form.

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Andrew Rogers, City Living, 1996

Two plus three.

Five. It is getting harder to make sense of Rogers’s sculptural practice as it ranges in material and scale from small work in new materials to land art. His sculptures are a mix between ancient and contemporary materials, ancient and contemporary techniques, the extremely large and small scale and different locations from the desert to the city. But Rogers doesn’t see much difference between all his sculptures. They are all building on the same work, part of the same series of works that intersects with another series of works with the same theme.

Three and Five.

Eight. Scrolling through more photos on his iPhone, Rogers is talking about the latest edition of a sculpture that he made for the entrance to the headquarters of Cirque du Soleil in Montreal, Canada and his plans for more land art in Turkey and Peru. Talking about 420 tons of carved stone and building the roads as well as building the structures. Another version of a sculpture that has fire going through it for the fire breathing founder Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberté. He wasn’t a mystic with wild ideas, nor a charismatic salesman, he was more of a calm, taciturn, mathematician.

Rogers explains; “When I’m on a land art site I’m there seven days a week, ten hours a day, working. I’m working with lots of people. I’m just working with more people than I normally work with at a foundry but its no different. Once you have a volume of work you need people to help you create it. You can’t do it all by yourself.”

 

Come to the Edge 1-A Rogers

Andrew Rogers, Come to the Edge, 2015

Out to the foundry floor he shows me couple of elegant, dynamic stainless steel sculptures he spends 90% of his time doing this kind of work. Another sea shell form in stainless steel that is being polished. Rogers explains some of difficulties of casting curved forms in stainless steel. “State of the art stuff,” He says but basically it is art bling for the conspicuous consumers.

On the desk in the small office of Meridian Foundry in Melbourne, where I am interviewing Andrew Rogers, there is the form of a bisected sea shell cast in a polymer and covered in a thick coating of crushed lapis lazuli, a sample of a new technique that Rogers is trying for his Molten Concept series. The series involves the same sea shell form each made in different materials.

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A test sample for Andrew Rogers

The sea shell form is also the form of Rogers’s third ‘geoglyph’, Slice (2003) in the Avara Desert in Israel. A vertical slice through a sea shell drawn horizontally with walls of stones on land that was once part of an ancient seafloor.

“Land art is an ancient form of art but I think my land art is fairly contemporary in its approach and ideas. The methods probably aren’t that different. Some structures are only able to be made with a contemporary approach, with contemporary equipment but the structures aren’t that much different to ancient structures. The ideas behind whether it is a contemporary bronze or stainless steel is the same idea behind the land art. They are all reflecting similar ideas. So you can take the mathematical Fibonacci Sequences, which is an ancient idea but I have made a contemporary bronze and I have created it in a number of contemporary stone structures around the world.”

In the Fibonacci Sequence the next number in the sequence is the sum of the two previous numbers. It is a natural model of growth and progression with each step building on the previous steps. The patterns of nature expressed in numbers, like the slice through a sea shell.

A sequence or a pattern only makes sense as a progression not in isolation. The later numbers don’t replace the earlier numbers but continue to build on them. New art doesn’t replace old art but builds on it in a continuing sequence of art making. And so on and the numbers and types of Rogers sculptures continues to grow larger. He currently has over fifty massive stone structures. We see by recognising patterns in time and space. The Fibonacci Sequence is a both way to understand some of his sculptures and also Rogers’s whole oeuvre.


ASV Sculpture Awards 2015

The Association of Sculptors of Victoria’s Annual Awards Sculpture Exhibition is located in a suitably grand location, the marble and glass foyer of Bourke Place, 600 Bourke Street, Melbourne. There were hundreds of people at the exhibition opening, a classical quartet, cheese platters and wine (I was enjoying the Kooyonga Creek cab sav from North East Victoria). All the usual hype of an awards night.

ASV exhibition 2015 at Bourke Place, Joel Gailer's Mirror State on left.

ASV exhibition 2015 at Bourke Place, Joel Gailer’s Mirror State on left.

And all of this couldn’t happen without sponsors and donors. “Artists make difficult business decisions all the time,” ASV president Jan Indrans told the audience as he thanked the sponsors and donors.

Internationally known sculptor and land artist Andrew Rogers made a speech encouraging the exhibiting sculptors not to give up, to enjoy it and “dream a little.” Rogers always reminded the audience that sculpture is always a team effort and acknowledged the Meridian Foundry, the association and the all the other people involved in sculpture.

Sculptors have alway mixed business and the arts for their mutual benefit, symbiosis is a more dynamic relationship than domestication or master and servants. Sculpture is a very expensive art form to work in, there are expensive materials, the expense of transporting them before the sculptor starts to work.

With a 130 sculptures in the exhibition there is a huge range of sculptures by amateur and professional sculptors. There are sculptures in traditional material of cast bronze or carved marble. Modern sculptures in steel or ceramic. Contemporary sculptures in polycarbonate plastics or found materials.

The exhibition is only on to October 16 and it is worth seeing for a survey of the variety of current sculptural practice. Not the academic avant-garde vision of the future of sculptural practice but current practice with all the long tails of various styles. From the corny, traditional, kitsch, the visual equivalent to hyperbole, subtle, elegant there are sculptures to suit and offend everyone’s taste.

Andrew Bryant’s Moods7 DSC00663

I was amazed by Andrew Bryant’s Moods7 because it moves, a lozenge of limestone rotates on a stainless steel pivot. I don’t think that I’ve seen a stone sculpture that moved before.

Daniel Worth, My Nose

Daniel Worth, My Nose

Daniel Worth’s My Nose is a marble and granite memorial to all the missing noses on classical sculptures.


West End Public Art

Melbourne’s west end is dominated by courts, the lawyers offices, the associated lunch and coffee places; it is not an area of the city that I regularly explore as both street art and art galleries are rare in the area. However, this year I have been in the area as I have been covering the Paul Yore trial. I did find some street art off Healeys Lane, a large stencil work by E.L.K. and some paste-ups by Sunfigo and there are a few public sculptures by Paul Montford, Andrew Rodgers, Tom Bass and Robert Juniper.

E.L.K., You are free...

E.L.K., You are free…

Flagstaff Gardens is like a suburban park in the city, the children’s playground, the adult’s playground (tennis courts and bowls), the residual base of small bandstand and the expanse of lawn. Its hill no longer affords much of a view but there is a Gothic revival sandstone obelisk monument to estimated six pioneers who were buried at its summit,  in 1871 the Department of Public Works then commissioned Samuel Craven, one of the stonemasons who campaigned for an eight hour day, to carve a memorial to mark the site of what was once called Burial Hill. Paul Montford’s bronze sculpture The Court Favourite stands further down the hill near the tennis courts.

Andrew Rodgers, City Living, 1996

Andrew Rogers, City Living, 1996

Andrew Rogers City Living, 1996 is a series of bronze figures of naked men, women and a baby rising up on hemisphere fans of bronze are up on a plinth. It is a kind of modern vision of escaping to an abstract spirit. Central Equity Homes commissioned the sculpture in June 1995 and donated it to the city in 1996. The sculpture is sort of hidden away a little way down Jeffcott Street; I saw it from the hill of Flagstaff Gardens.

Andrew Rogers, Rhythms of the Metropolis,

Andrew Rogers, Rhythms of the Metropolis,

There is another sculpture by Rogers nearby on the Queen and Lt. Bourke Streets, Rhythms of the Metropolis and more recent sculptures by him in the Docklands. Roger has a diverse sculptural practice from these modern bronzes to his gigantic dry stone wall land-art in desert locations around the world, his “geoglyphs”.

Tom Bass, Transportation, 1963-64

Tom Bass, Transportation, 1963-64

High on the wall of 160 Queen Street is Transportation 1963-64 by Sydney sculptor, Tom Bass. The figure with aeroplane wings stands in a boat triumphantly holds aloft a wheel, perhaps representing modern transportation. The form of the figure resembles a secular crucifix, this is modernism looking back to the ancient ways of representing ideas. In the niche beneath the sculpture is a small circle of benches and wheelchair ramp.

Robert Juniper, “Shadow Form III", 1988

Robert Juniper, “Shadow Form III”, 1988

BHP House at 140 William St. was constructed between 1967 – 1972 and added Robert Juniper’s Shadow Form III out the front in 1988. Shadow Form is steel simplified organic form, a clump of steel plants amidst the glass and steel canyons of Melbourne’s central business district. The steel sculpture is appropriate for a steel framed building and for the former headquarters of the steel producer. The plinth provides seating mostly used by office workers eating their lunch.

What once was the centre of the city in the colonial days when the city’s focus was on the port and there was a flagstaff in Flagstaff Gardens. Now the old colonial stone buildings like the Langdon Buildings from 1863 abut modern buildings of glass and steel. The life has been slowly drained from the area. Melbourne has since looked south, north and east and real estate agents describe the area as ‘on Melbourne’s doorstep’ in billboard advertising for empty office buildings. There is the city’s first cathedral, St. James from 1839 with it odd octagonal top to the spire, surrounded by an old iron fence (although it would be a mistake to image that this is its original location, it was moved there in 1913-14). Further down the road there are the three spires of the theatre restaurant, Witches in Britches.


Corporate Sculpture in the CBD

Most of the contemporary and modern sculpture in Melbourne’s CBD is not public sculpture it is owned by the corporation that owns the building. The sculptures out the front office buildings are often very high quality by notable artists. Modern architecture needs sculpture in forecourts and foyers to humanize the austere geometry. So while the City of Melbourne was avoiding installing public sculpture for most of the 20th century the business sector was not. These sculptures don’t attract much attention. They are ignored (in a way that public sculpture is not), there are no public controversies over them because they were not paid for public money even though they are on public show.

Tom Bass, Chidren’s Tree, bronze

In front of the CML Building on Elizabeth St. is “Children’s Tree” 1963, a bronze sculpture by Tom Bass. The plinth of this statue has been designed as public seating and is very popular. This whimsical sculpture has a boy and girl playing around stylized tree with an owl, a subtle allegory of wisdom through play. It is part of an era when conservative Melbourne avoided abstract art but its whimsical style is again in fashion.

Andrew Rogers, Rhythms of the Metropolis, bronze

At the front of 200 Queen Street is a large bronze sculpture by Andrew Rogers “Rhythms of the Metropolis” 1996, a very futurist title and sculpture. The rhythmic energy of the city was celebrated by futurism. This sculpture is not representative of Roger’s style. Andrew Rogers is now internationally known for his very large geo-glyph land art around the world.

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Chris Booth Strata on Little Collins St.

There is a small collection of contemporary sculptures in the courtyard of 360 Collins Street that faces Lt. Collins St. It is worth a look for the variety of styles and techniques represented in the small collection. There is no information about these sculptures in the courtyard; hopefully someone will fill me in. There are sculptures  by Paul Blizzard, his father the late Peter Blizzard and New Zealand sculptor Chris Booth.  The tall sculpture is Peter Blizzard’s Shrine to The Ancient River, 2000.

I have been looking more closely at Paul Blizzard’s familiar bronze fossils set in stone. They frequently include an anachronistic inconsistency; there is the bicycle tire print across the snake skeleton and a small padlock with a bird skeleton. These anachronisms and other inconsistencies, such as mounting the bronze ‘fossils’ in volcanic igneous rather than a fossil bearing sedimentary rock, are part of the charm of the work. Paul Blizzard added artistic details to the rocks that he wished were there, even though that would be impossible.

Paul Blizzard, Fossil Stone detail, bronze

And this is just a few of the sculptures out the front of buildings in the CBD – I would be interested in exploring corporate art collections further if I could get further access and information.


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