Tag Archives: Augustine Dall’Ava

Anthony Pryor “The Legend”

“The Legend”, 1991, stands at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It is a steel sculpture with the upper part suggesting the movement of the football in play. Anthony Pryor wanted it to be a climax of exuberance and energy.

Anthony Pryor, The Legend, MCG

Anthony Pryor, The Legend, MCG

Daryl Jackson describes “The Legend” as a “gateway, an arched figure through which people may journey to the game.” (Joanna Capon, Anthony Pryor: Sculpture & Drawings 1974-1991, Macmillan Education AU, 1999, p.6) When I last saw “The Legend” there were orange bollards around it. I don’t think that the orange bollards around each of the steel pillars were part of the original work but something had to be done for health and safety reasons – just one of the perils of not having a plinth.

The maquette for “The Legend” was made at the studio that Pryor shared with Geoffrey Barlett and Augustine Dall’Ava at 108 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. The actual sculpture fabricated at J K Fasham Pty Ltd a firm that specialize in architectural metal fabrication. (J K Fasham Pty Ltd in Clayton South fabricated many other public sculptures including Deborah Helpburn’s “Ophelia”, Inge King “Sheerwater” and Edward Ginger’s “The Echo” in Melbourne.) The sculptures commission was associated with the re-development at the MCG. It was completed and installed just before Pryor’s untimely death in 1991; he was only 40.

The youngest of three siblings Anthony Pryor was born in Melbourne in 1951. His father Ron Pryor ran a knitwear manufacturing business. Pryor grew up in Melbourne’s northern suburbs where attended Reservoir High School and Preston Technical Collage. It was a tough place in a young man in the late 60s and Pryor thought that he wanted to be an engineer. He changed his mind mid way through an engineering exam and studied sculpture at RMIT. There he met fellow students, his friends, and now, also notable sculptors, Geoffrey Bartlett and Augustine Dall’Ava.

Anthony Pryor, The Performers, 533 St. Kilda Rd.

Anthony Pryor, The Performers, 533 St. Kilda Rd.

Pryor’s sculptures are dynamic even though they stand still. They have so much energy zapping around them that they have are lighting bolts and motion blurs. His curved marble forms have metal wings.

Anthony Pryor has other public sculptures in Melbourne, as well as, in Brisbane, at Bond University, in far north Queensland and in central Victoria. There are several of his sculptures outside corporate buildings along St. Kilda Road. In the foyer of 607 St. Kilda Road there is his “Tree of Life 2”. And at 553 St. Kilda Road “The Performers” 1989 metal and marble commissioned by Pomeroy Industries for its development now occupied by the American Consulate General. There is another figure titled “The Performers” at Box Hill Central. This is not the only Pryor sculpture in Melbourne’s outer suburbs; Templestowe City Council acquired “I am a Man Like You” in 1986.

Surreal Games

Augustine Dall’Ava’s sculpture exhibition at John Buckley Gallery is part of a Surrealist tradition. Dall’Ava’s continue the simplified biomorphic forms that Jean Arp first discovered. Dall’Ava’s continues Alberto Giacometti’s arrangement of forms, as in Giacometti’s early surrealist sculptures, like “The Suspended Ball in the Hour of Trances”, 1930. Dall’Ava quotes Giacometti’s the hanging objects in Dall’Ava’s Sixteenth and Twentieth Dialogues. Surrealism is a continuing tradition, not a historic art movement, and Dall’Ava continues to perfect the form of Surrealist sculpture.

Dall’Ava sculptures look beautiful. The materials: the marble, travertine, slate and steel are all polished and elegant. The painted wood is bright and glossy.

One refinement is the board, the base of the sculpture; they are boards, rather than extremely long, very thin plinths. They are, to be precise, game-board, like a chessboard and the base of Dall’Ava’s Eighth Dialogue and Third Dialogue have chessboard patterns. Games, the play of children and the chance rolls of a die are all very important to Surrealism.

A board game is a formalized, miniature, schematic representation of a world; Duchamp described games of chess as sculptural. In a game there is not just the positive and negative space, occupied or unoccupied by the pieces, but the potential spaces of occupation, the possible moves. The pieces in Dall’Ava’s sculptures: trees, clouds, rocks, the moon and other forms in appealing miniatures are carefully arranged on his boards. There are also cubes with pitted sides, suggesting dice, in many of the Dialogues.

All of Dall’Ava’s sculptures in this exhibition are titled ‘Dialogue’. Unlike Geoffrey Edwards, Director of the Geelong Art Gallery, in his catalogue essay for the exhibition, I believe that this collective title does give away a lot of allegorical intent. For a game, like chess, is a dialogue between two players.

There is no need for monumental sculpture in the anti-imperialist, anti-war world of Surrealism. It is a world where we have a playful dialogue with sculpture rather than idolizing the dead soldier or dictator high up on plinth.

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