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Tag Archives: Robert Juniper

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.

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Corporate Power Symbols

Outside 1 Spring Street is C.O. Perry’s “Shell Mace”, 1989, a huge ribbed form of steel with a bronze coloured finish. Commissioned by the Shell Oil Co. American industrial designer, Charles O. Perry (1929-2011) was a sculptor, designer, and architect. There is another Perry sculpture, “Cassini”, 1978 outside the front of the Civic Arts Complex in Ringwood and three more in Sydney and Perth. Inside 1 Spring Street above the foyer is a large Arthur Boyd painting of swimmers at Shollhaven.

Charles O. Perry, Shell Mace, 1989

This post is about the corporate sculpture on public display in the forecourts of office buildings, mostly along St. Kilda Road in Melbourne. I have already written about some corporate sculptures in the CBD in an earlier post as well as in Batman and Fawkner. I don’t want to suggest that these corporately owned public sculptures are common; less 10% of the buildings along St. Kilda Road have a sculpture in front of them.

Most of the sculptures were added long after the buildings construction. BHP House, 140 William Street, built 1967 – 1972, added Robert Juniper’s C.O. Perry’s Shell Mace, 1989. “Shadow Form” is steel simplified organic forms, like 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.

Robert Juniper, “Shadow Form III”, 1988

One difficulty in writing about these sculptures is identifying them, as unlike sculptures owned by the City of Melbourne there are no brass plaques in the sidewalk to identify the artist. On the corner of Albert St. and St. Kilda Rd. and out the front of The Domain (1 Albert Street) it is a corten steel sculpture, like a curved figure on a steel obelisk plinth. I wasn’t been able to find out anything about this sculpture or the sculptor but after an appeal on this blog it has been identified as the work of Robert Jacks

Robert Jacks sculpture, title unknown

There are a couple of Akio Makigawa statues outside 479 and 509 St. Kilda Road. They were easy to identify as I have previously written a post on Akio Makigawa. 509 St. Kilda Rd, the MLC building has 3 black stone obelisks surmounted with white twists of marble turn on three different axes. There is a single obelisk surmounted with a leaf or flame of marble outside of 479 Dun & Bradstreet House. The obelisk is composed of alternating grey and white marble, a simple rhythm typical of Makigawa’s sculpture.

Akio Makigawa sculpture at MLC Building

Akio Makigawa sculpture at Dun & Bradstreet House

At the Lucient Building 430 St. Kilda Road there is a curved steel form set in a water-feature, a very shallow, black marble reflecting pond. A welded signature allowed me to identify it as Melbourne based sculptor, Geoffrey Bartlett’s “Orion”, 2008. I must write more about Barlett’s organic metal forms as he has many sculptures around Melbourne and is represented in significant public collections, like the NGA and NGV.

Geoffrey Bartlett, “Orion”, 2008

These sculptures are symbols of corporate wealth and power. The corporations aspire to own sculptures that exhibit to public that the company has wealth, power and a modern outlook.


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