Life gets in the way of Life with a blackdog

I’ve been an absentee blogger, sadly.  Real life got in the way in the form of a new job – my first real full time role in 15 years. Yes, having children was a choice and it meant changes and compromises and I’m pretty happy with the results – two beautiful children who I can say bring me joy every day.

But getting back on the chain gang has been a challenge. The life logistics got even more complicated – who needed to be where when and with what packed in a bag?  Evening meals got more simple (simpler?) – being a very plain cook, I wasn’t sure that was possible, but it was. Food as fuel.

The dog has continued to be walked of course, but starting the job mid-winter has meant very little time for wider forays into the public art scene in Canberra.  Now that spring is upon us though and the days are longer, I have plans to get out amongst it all again.  That’s a promise I will try to keep!

In the meantime, here are some pics of our adventures, some close by, some a bit further away.

garden dog Letterbox Seed pods  Suburban swing Tilly and the banksia rosesShoes make a pillow

Who you callin' a dummy (One of these dogs is not a statue!)


It moves, but never gets off the ground

When I first saw Dinornis Maximus I thought it was an actual wind measuring instrument, something that the Weather Bureau had put up to test which way the wind was blowing, or how fast – a kind of new-fangled wind sock. Or maybe a new wind turbine for generating electricity.  But no, it’s a kinetic sculpture.

Tall wind sculpture Tilly

It has grown on me – I regularly drive past it en route through Woden – and I find I am now less distracted by it than previously. Initially I thought the blades might fly off.  Up close, though it seems pretty stable.

Upwards wind sculpture

The day we went to take a look, it was freezing cold, but there was no wind, which is why I felt able to get so close.

Tilly base wind sculpture

Dinornis was the giant moa, a flightless bird, from New Zealand.  Extinct now of course, and thought to stand more than three metres tall.  This sculpture is 11 metres tall, and its arms rotate every which way, whatever way the wind takes it.  A bit like life, really.

Dinorsis long view Dinornis Plaque

The artist is Phil Price, a NZ sculptor.  I do like the irony of the artist naming this sculpture with swinging arms after a flightless bird.  It moves and moves, but never gets off the ground.

Here’s a quick film on YouTube of the sculpture’s arms moving about.

On the road again

With the wind in my ears and a smile on my own face, I think this sculpture adroitly captures the joy of the dog taking a road trip with its owner.

Tilly and on the road again

Dog truck 3

The whimsy of the composition, with the dog’s head stuck out of the car’s window – which seems to hang mid-air – encourages the imagination.  And you can feel the movement of the wind as it whooshes through the car, pulling the dog’s ear’s backwards while the car is propelled forward.

Dog truck 1        Anne Ross On the Road again 2011

On the road again by Anne Ross  is located at Lyons shops, and is made of bronze. It was installed in November 2011, and unveiled in 2012.

It adds humour to the shops at Lyons, which is one of the few local shops that also has information about the person for whom it is named, Australian Prime Minister Joe Lyons.

Lyons sculpture

Lyons 2

Swaying stalks of light

The Vessel of Horticultural Plenty looks brilliant at night, but Tilly and I aren’t allowed out then – it’s way past our bedtime. Needless to say, it’s still striking during the daytime.

Funded by ArtsACT in 2009, the artist is Warren Langley.

Light sculpture 2  Light sculpture Tilly

The sculpture is made of galvanised steel, polycarbonate and coloured LED lights. The strips of lighting sway in the breeze, casting a colourful swathe through the night sky. Here’s a picture of what it looks like at night.

It’s located in Childers Street, in Canberra as part of the new ANU precinct (at the Barry Drive end).

There is another Warren Langley glass and light sculpture at the Canberra Glassworks. Will have to ask for a pass out to see that one evening.

A dog walk to A Short Walk

I visit Weston Creek (ACT) shops several times a week – they’re my “local” shops – and I see this delightful sculpture pretty much every time, driving in from the western end of Hindmarsh Drive.

Weston 3

It reminds me of going regularly to the shops with our two children – although we rarely skip through them (any more).  The notes in ArtsACT’s guide to ACT public art say that Mathew Calvert’s statue, A Short Walk, is of three siblings and is derived from the iconic pedestrian crossing sign.

To me, it’s a joyful representation and I am very fond of it.  However, the artist has a more serious message about road safety, and I suspect the statues’ placement so close to the busy Hindmarsh Drive is purposeful, to remind us of pedestrians as we whizz past in our cars.

Weston Tilly 1 Weston taillights

The statues are about three times the size of an average person and are made from steel and highly polished concrete. The artist has hand rendered pieces of broken vehicle tail lights into the surfaces of the statues.  It’s confronting when you get up close – there’s so much of it, and I guess that is part of his statement about road safety.

Further information about Mathew Calvert, who is based in Tasmania, is here.

Relic marks the spot

Relic stands at the end of University Avenue, at the beginning of the Australian National University Campus. Winner of the McClelland Sculpture Prize (2007), the artist is an Australian, Rick Amor, who is also a painter and has been an official Australian war artist. The original sculpture of Relic is in the McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park  in Langwarrin, Victoria.  Through ArtsACT, the ACT Government commissioned this version of Relic in 2007.

It’s a very odd looking sculpture, although seemingly much loved by students, as it is often clothed with a hat or a scarf in winter to keep away the Canberra chill. I am not sure whether the empty bottles (in the picture) are a relic of past fun or an artistic statement.  I didn’t want to move them for my photo.

SKinny statue 2

Despite this bit of humour, though, when I see it, I am always confronted by the muscularity of the body, the definition and power of the muscle and sinew, and the absent arms.  Its shadow is very sinister and the statue towers over you when you get close, marking its spot.

Made in bronze, it matches another large bronze statue, The Dog (2002), located at the National Gallery of Australia. Further information here .

Skinny statue with dog

And here’s Tilly pretending to be a dog in a statue.

Exploring Canberra’s public art

I always take lots of photos of statues and sculptures when we are travelling in other places.  But what about the excellent public art that we have in Canberra?  I want to find out more, so the black kelpie and I are going to investigate some of these pieces further.

Today, we looked at Chalchiuhtlicue, located in Latin America Plaza, just in the newly developed end of Childers Street, in Civic.

Mexican 2 Latin America plaza

The name of the statue means “The Goddess of Water” and is “inspired by the pre-Hispanic stone sculpture of the same name, found at the archaeological site of Teotihuacan, Mexico.”  It is made of steel, and the artist is Jesus Mayagoitia. (My Spanish isn’t great, but I think this is his site –  The main impact of this statute was to make me want to go to Mexico to see the inspiration!  More travel.  Note to self: must find job.

Rocket with tillly Plaque for miners

Also at Latin American Plaza is a replica of the capsule that rescued the 33 trapped miners in Chile in 2010.  It was a gift from the People and Government of Chile to the Government of Australia.   Looking at the replica, I was taken back to this disaster, and the fear for the men who were trapped underground for so long.  And how weird it would have been to be transported up to the light, in this little cage.  Although I am sure each of them was glad of the opportunity!

Arts ACT and the ACT Government recently issued (or re-issued) an electronic guide to the public art that has been commissioned by the local or federal government, and is in the ACT.  More to come!