This is a collection of photos of Melbourne public sculptures and their maquettes. Maquette is an arty French word for a ‘model’ from when French was the language of art (now the language of contemporary art is any language that you speak). They are made in a variety of media from wood, wax, clay or anything other inexpensive media that works for the sculptor.
Sculptors make them as visual sketches for themselves but they are also used to get commissions for sculptures. The sculptural equivalent of architectural models. The City of Melbourne has a small collection of these maquettes in their storage, as have the Arts Centre, that were submissions for sculpture commissions.
These models are made directly by the sculptor whereas the full-scale version may be the work of both sculptor, assistants and other fabricators. The models for bronze sculptures are made out of bees wax and multiple bronze editions of these scale models are sometimes made.
Louis Laumen’s Pastor Sir Doug and Lady Gladys Nicholls Memorial (aka Dungala Wamayirr) was originally design to be on opposite sides of each and to be on a higher plinth. Here they are along with James White’s Edmund Fitzgibbon Memorial, along with another unknown statue (possibly Peter Corlett’s John Cain but on a plinth).
The maquettes for familiar public sculptures were on a couple of shelves, there were racks of paintings and even a couple of street art pieces (recent acquisitions from the Andy Mac collection auction) in the storage at the City of Melbourne Art and Heritage Collection. I was looking around on a tour with Melbourne Open House 2012 – the only opportunity that a member of the public has to see this archive of the city’s history.
Maquettes for Fiona Clarke and Ken McKean’s Eel Trap and Pamela Irving’s Larry Latrobe
“Where are the sculptures?” I asked at the end of the tour. I had expected to see a couple of old marble sculpture in bad repair, as Melbourne’s gardens were reportedly full of copies of classical sculpture.
“We don’t have any in storage.”
Further interrogation followed as I had read a report in the Melbourne Weekly Times about the two busts of Dante and Marconi that are in storage. They are going to the new Italian Culture Museum. There were bits of another sculpture but apart from that there was nothing in storage, it was all out on public display.
The sculptures that are no longer visible in the city are owned and stored by organizations other than the City of Melbourne. I assume that Docklands has a separate storage where they are keeping the recently dismantled “Shoal Fly By” by Melbourne-based architect/artist partnership, Cat Macleod and Michael Bellemo that was located on Harbour Esplanade. The dock footing where the sculpture stood was unsafe and the sculpture was removed earlier this year.
Michael Meszaros sculpture “Distant Conversations” 1992 (also known as “the Telstra figures”) is no longer in the Telstra building. “In October 2009, Telstra decided after 17 years they were going to dismantle Michael Meszaros’ ‘Distant Conversations’ in order to install a Telstra shop. Needless to say the artist was distraught. Mr Meszaros sort legal advise and with the help of lawyer Dr. Mark Williams was able to save his work under the recognition of artists’ moral rights legislation. After negotiating with Telstra for a reasonable outcome Mr Meszaros was eventually able to secure a buyer for the artwork who agreed to remove, store and eventually relocate the work which is valued at over $1million.” (Public Art Around the World)
What ever happened to the de Kooning sculpture that used to stand in front of the Art Centre? What sculptures in Melbourne do you remember that aren’t there any more?