Louis Laumen, Sculptor

Melbourne Australia

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 Aboriginal Honour Is No Dreaming

State and local government have played a key role in honouring the lives of a respected Indigenous couple.
   The Department of Justice, the Department of Planning and Community Development and the City of Melbourne jointly commissioned the bronze statue of Pastor Sir Douglas Nicholls and his wife, Lady Gladys.

"Leaders immortalised in statues"
   The life-size statue, by sculptor Louis Laumen, was recently unveiled in Parliament Gardens. Titled Dungala Wamayirr (River People) it was the result of a four-year consultative process with the Nicholls family and Indigenous community. It was Melbourne’s first memorial commemorating indigenous contribution to Australian society.
   Descendants of people from the Murray, Loddon, Richardson and Wimmera River areas, Sir Douglas and Lady Gladys were prominent members of the Indigenous community whose work on Aboriginal rights and justice had enormous impact on modern Australian society. Sir Douglas was the Governor of South Australia in 1976 and 1977.
   The sculpture shows Sir Douglas in conversation while Lady Gladys looks on. At their feet stretch a series of diamond-shaped traditional clan markings carved into stone blocks.
   A family totem design by Ngarra Murray (great grand-daughter of Sir Doug and Lady Gladys) featuring Bigarrumdja the Emu and Waa the Crow, is a symbolic reminder of shared connection to Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung country, ancestors and stories.
   Dungala Wamayirr honours the Nicholls as “River people who turned the tide of history and injustice to progress the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”.
   It is the latest in a string of awards recognising the extraordinary achievement of Sir Douglas, including a British Knighthood in 1972 and the title of Bapa Mamus or Headman of the Indigenous Nations (by the Torres Strait Islander communities) in the same year.
    “The significance of the memorial to the Indigenous community is tremendous, being the first in Melbourne to acknowledge the contribution of two prominent members,” said the Director of the Indigenous Issues Unit with the  Department of Justice, Andrew Jackomos.
    “Hopefully it will be the first of many to inform and inspire future generations,” Mr Jackomos said.


Fitting tribute to 'mighty' couple


Steve Waldon
December 10, 2007

NOTEBOOK
A formidable team: the statue of Sir Doug and Lady Gladys Nicholls is unveiled at Parliament Gardens yesterday.

Photo: Wayne Taylor
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BIG reputations often inspire big statements, but there was no doubt the praise extended to Doug and Gladys Nicholls yesterday was heartfelt.

A bronze statue of pastor Sir Doug and Lady Gladys was unveiled in Parliament Gardens, where more than 500 people sat or stood in glorious sunlight to be reminded of the impact the Aboriginal couple had on Australia.

Doug Nicholls played footy for Fitzroy, established a Church of Christ there in 1942, was the first field officer for the Aborigines Advancement League (50 years old this year), was a pivotal player in the campaign that produced indigenous recognition in 1967, the first Aborigine to be knighted, and the first Aboriginal governor of South Australia.

But yesterday we also recalled Gladys as strong, passionate, intelligent and resourceful. They were a compelling double act — a fact clearly not lost on sculptor Louis Laumen. It was a measure of the esteem in which the couple are held that when the black cloth slid from the statue, the applause was warm and prolonged — like a concert crowd willing the performers to return for an encore.

Victorian elder Uncle Herb Patten played Shall We Gather at the River on a gumleaf.

Pastor Neville Lilley read a favourite passage that Sir Doug had written on the cover of a small Bible. Philippians 3:13-14 tells of "the high calling of God in Christ Jesus".

Current AAL president Alf Bamblett picked up that theme, saying the Nicholls' legend stemmed from their willingness to acknowledge a calling "when it came knocking". "You can answer the call or you can walk away. In Doug and Gladys, we have two people who answered the call in a mighty, mighty way."

The youngest of the Nicholls' daughters, Pam Pederson, said the family was excited when the statue idea emerged four years ago, and it was strongly represented at yesterday's event. "You'll be able to recognise us by our big smiles," she said.

Sir Doug and Lady Gladys are sleeping in the cemetery of the Cummeragunja mission in the Barmah forest, but his humour lives on. When he was presented with an MBE, Doug Nicholls said it probably stood for "more black (than) ever".

Walks and tours

The Sir Douglas and Lady Gladys Nicholls memorial in Parliament GardensSir Douglas and Lady Gladys Nicholls Memorial

The life and work of two of Australia’s most prominent Indigenous leaders and Traditional Owners has been immortalised in Melbourne’s Parliament Gardens. A memorial to Sir Douglas and Lady Gladys Nicholls was unveiled in the gardens in December 2007

Sir Douglas and Lady Gladys Nicholls played an instrumental part in the 1967 referendum movement in providing comfort and assistance to many people who were homeless, in need of help or who were disenfranchised. Their work touched the lives of many, particularly in the Fitzroy and Northcote area, and their legacy still lives on today.

The Sir Douglas and Lady Gladys Nicholls memorial marks an important addition to Melbourne's cultural identity. The City of Melbourne  is committed to the realisation of Indigenous aspirations and this memorial allows younger generations to learn more about two very important people in Australia’s history.

The Memorial comprises two major works. A one and-a-half times life size bronze sculpture of Pastor Sir Douglas and Lady Gladys by Louis Laumen and etching artwork into bluestone by Ngarra Murray. The artwork, titled Dungula Wamayirr (River People) represents the artist's great-grandmother and great-grandfather's connection to their country. Diamonds depict the traditional markings of their clan groups and their totems, Bigarrumdja the Emu (Yorta Yorta) and Waa the Crow (Dja Dja Wurrung) symbolise their ancestors and their stories. Pastor Sir Douglas and Lady Gladys were born on the Dungala (Murray) river, the river of life and grew up on this river in Yorta Yorta country.


The memorial was a partnership project between the Nicholls Family, the City of Melbourne and the Victorian Government.

Where:  Parliament Gardens (Melway reference: 2F K1)


Thomas More   

Parliament House Sydney

By + Cardinal George Pell                
Archbishop of Sydney
8/6/2006


This year we are celebrating 150 years of responsible government in New South Wales, one of the oldest democracies anywhere in the world.  This is a reason for pride and quiet celebration.

It is my privilege today as Archbishop of Sydney to present to the New South Wales parliament, on behalf of the Catholic community, a beautiful bronze statue of Sir Thomas More, who was born in England in either 1477 or 1478 and was beheaded on Tower Hill in London on July 6, 1535 on the orders of King Henry VIII.

This gift is a recognition of how much all of us owe to our Australian democratic practices and traditions to the Westminster system of government which we have inherited and to our politicians.

I congratulate the sculptor Louis Laumen on capturing More’s spirit and I believe that this beautiful piece will always be a silent but powerful reminder in this place of the need for high principles, service to the truth and, above all, moral courage.

More has been canonized as a saint and martyr and is the patron saint of statesmen and politicians.  Robert Bolt’s play and film called him “A Man for All Seasons” and More contributed significantly in many different areas.

He was a writer and religious controversialist, a lawyer, lecturer and envoy abroad, and with the coronation of Henry VIII he began a brilliant public career.  At the age of 26 he entered parliament and held a succession of offices, becoming Privy Councillor, Knight, Speaker of the House of Commons, high steward both of Oxford University, his alma mater, and Cambridge University and eventually succeeding Cardinal Wolsey as Lord Chancellor in 1529.  But we don’t commemorate and honour him today for those considerable achievements.

Catholics in particular and many others remember Henry VIII as a tyrant who executed many of those closest to him, including some of his wives, and split the Christian Church in England from the Catholic Church, but when he ascended the throne he was seen very differently.  He was young, vigorous, genuinely religious, a good linguist and musician and a friend of the “new learning”.  In fact the English rise to power began with the Tudors, especially under his daughter Elizabeth.  Perhaps the best modern parallel to understand the enthusiasm he generated was the election of J.F. Kennedy as president of United States in 1960.


The first half of the sixteenth century in Europe was an exciting time.  Columbus had not long discovered the Americans and in Italy the Renaissance had

produced Da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, and many others as well as the Renaissance popes, often worldlings or worse but great patrons of the arts and of the return of the classics.


More helped bring the Renaissance to England.  He was the friend of scholars such as Grocyn, Colet and especially Erasmus.  “You must be Thomas More or nobody”, Erasmus began at their first meeting, with More replying “And you must be Erasmus or the devil”.  He worked hard to have the study of Greek introduced into Oxford.

It was More who invited Holbein to England, warning him that he might struggle for commissions and it is through Holbein’s magnificent portraits and sketches that we understand Henry’s England so much better.  This sculpture is based on Holbein’s portrait of More now in the Frick Gallery in New York, where it hangs not far from the flat, evil face of Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, also painted by Holbein who consolidated Henry’s power through the suppression of the monasteries, and was also executed by this same king for his pains.

More was brought undone by “the King’s great matter”.  Henry’s wife Catherine of Aragon was unable to produce a son and Henry wanted to marry Anne Boleyn.  For various reasons Pope Clement VII refused to allow the matter to be decided in England and refused to nullify Henry’s first marriage.

More was a cautious lawyer, who mistrusted his own ability to stand by his principles and took refuge in silence, although refusing to attend Anne and Henry’s marriage.  Henry was probably inclined to compromise, at least at the beginning, but Anne was relentless and the stakes were raised to assert Henry’s religious supremacy in England as head of the Church.  On this Thomas would not budge.

Ironically More had originally believed that the popes were a human development and had warned the young Henry against too close an alliance with the papacy.  Ten years of study brought him to the conclusion that the position of the pope as the successor of Peter was divinely ordained.  But once again that particular Catholic conviction is not the reason we honour Sir Thomas More in this place.

We are paying tribute to More’s courage to his adherence to principle, to his opposition to tyranny.  He did this with few companions and little support.  Only one bishop, John Fisher of Rochester shared his view about the importance of the pope, while most Catholics thought he had exaggerated things badly.  His favourite daughter, Meg Roper, together with all his family believed his sacrifices were unnecessary.  Even more poignantly during his entire lifetime there were only a couple of popes who aspired to religious respectability and the papacy became ruthlessly secularized.  It was these excesses which provoked Luther and the Protestant Reformation.

More was a man of his times and the title of saint does not imply life long perfection.  He regarded heretics as small “l” liberals today regard racists, while going further so that during his time as chancellor six Protestants were executed.  We thank God that we have moved past such excesses.

More was a serious follower of Christ throughout his life, a clear example of an outstanding citizen nourished and inspired by religious principle.  His Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation, written during his 15 months in the Tower is a beautiful expression of faith and a support and comfort for all who are suffering.

More was a loyal friend, and had many friends.  He was a good family man with an unusual sense of humour.  He had style to go with his substance.

In his own final words at the scaffold “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first”.  And he had lived as he died.


W G GRACE SCULPTURE PROJECT
.
INFORMATION/PRESS RELEASE. (28 April 1999)

28 April 1999

Fundere Foundry

FUNDERE FINE ART FOUNDRY in collaboration with Sculptor LOUIS LAUMEN have produced a World first Monumental bronze sculpture of the cricketing legend, W.G. GRACE. We are proud to offer this one-off piece for sale in the UK. Grace will make his return to English shores in May 1999. The Grace sculpture will be exhibited at The GCCC County Ground in Bristol from 12th May in time for the West Indies v Pakistan World Cup fixture there on the 16th May.

The Grace project follows the successful commission by the foundry for a life-size sculpture of Sir Donald Bradman, modelled by Mitch Mitchell, and sold at auction by Christies in Melbourne in 1998. The Grace commemoration marks the continuation of a speculative initiative by Fundere to produce life-size images of prominent sporting and historical figures.

Sculptor LOUIS LAUMEN is emerging now as the leading practitioner in his field in Australia, setting new standards in the southern hemisphere for his consummate representations of the human form. Laumen is a first generation Dutch emigre who has lectured and exhibited widely throughout Australia. Notable commissions include; ANZ Banking Group, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Legacy Organisation, Cities of Benalla, Bendigo and Malvern; Omega Trend Ltd., Royal Selangor Ltd.; and numerous private portrait commissions.

We at Fundere, Louis Laumen and our Associates are intent on producing the definitive Grace image, which we believe will offer a unique and solid investment opportunity. Accordingly at all stages of this commission, the highest standards of craft and workmanship have been sought. This is an intensely researched piece and from all angles is an accurate reproduction of the man and the period, revealing an insight into the cricketing technique and dress of the time. It was largely through GraceŐs endeavours that the game of Cricket progressed from an insular English pastime into the international game we know today. No comparable tribute to Grace is in existence anywhere in the world. The sculpture is a world first; a tribute to the man and the legend as befits his unique character, and contribution to the game. The pose is taken from the only surviving film footage of Grace, in action at a practice session in 1907.

A proportion of the proceeds will be donated to charity; with cricketing initiatives for young people in the UK being the prime recipients. For income above the reserve price, an additional portion will be donated to the charities of choice of the winning bidder. Contribution and acknowledgment will also be paid to the Marylebone Cricket Club, Gloucester County Cricket Club and the Grace family.

Melbourne based FUNDERE is one of AustraliaŐs leading producers of bronze and metal sculpture; established in 1995 by Artist CAMERON McINDOE; and joined in 1998 by metals expert SEAN ELLIOTT as production director.


Art & design a winning team
The Commemoration Sculpture: 'The Birth of Australian Rules'

The Scotch Family and Melbourne Grammar Old Boys have joined forces to commission a sculpture which will commemorate the first game of Australian Rules Football played between Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar at 12 midday, on August 7, 1858, on the site of the MCG.

This larger than lifesize sculpture depicts a passage of play where two boys of the period are having a dramatic struggle for the ball and the game is being umpired by Tom Wills, who was the architect of the game and who made a major contribution to the drafting of the initial set of rules.

The sculpture will be located at the MCG and will be unveiled on 3 August, following the Scotch v. Grammar football match. Mr Louis Laumen, well known Melbourne sculptor, has been commissioned to create the piece, which has been under construction since late last year.

To assist with the design, a group of Scotch boys were involved in filming a video, which was used to determine the correct body movement for the three figures. Two Year 10 art students, Doug Lyons and Will Jonas, attended Mr Laumen's studio after school hours to model for him, while he created the marquette for the final work.

'Australian rules sculpture'This was a great experience for the lads concerned, and they can proudly say, that they played a part in the production of what will be one of Melbourne's future icons.

Mr Chris Taylor       











History's mark

Wednesday, August 8, 2001
Every year since 1858 the sons of the Melbourne establishment have met for a tussle on the footy field. Keith Dunstan explains why this time was special.
One of the most passionate football gatherings in Melbourne is the lunch before the annual contest between Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar. More than 600 attend and all ex-players, who can still walk, come from across the nation. This time was extra special; the combined old boys had donated a $160,000 bronze sculpture by Louis Laumen in memory of the first match on August 7, 1858.

There's been much debate about it, but the evidence is strong that this game in 1858 was the birth of Australian rules. Geoffrey Blainey spoke at the lunch. He said the match took place in the Richmond paddock between the Melbourne Cricket Ground and where Jolimont railway station is now. There were 40 players a side, no behind posts and the ground was maybe 800 yards long. However, Paul Sheahan, headmaster of Melbourne Grammar, says he has some 1858 diary notes from Dr Bromby, headmaster of MGS, who says it was a mile between goal posts.

Blainey says they started at noon and kept playing until dark. By that time they had scored just one goal each. They had to play through gum trees and there was a rule that if a kick went through the posts off a tree it was still a goal. There was no winner so they tried again the next Saturday, with no score at all, and again on the third Saturday, still no further score, so the game was abandoned.

The schools have kept tally ever since. By the time of the big lunch they had played 161 games. Scotch had won 75, Grammar had won 74, and 12 were drawn. The match in 1937 was cancelled because of an infantile paralysis epidemic. Scotch won in 1912, but the match was taken away from them because they played a young gentleman who was over age.

After lunch, the 162nd match took place at the MCG. Scotch boy barrackers in crimson were on one side of the ground and MGS boys in dark blue, were carefully separated on the other side. It is sad to report that the game was a massacre. Scotch scored 21 goals 19 behinds to Melbourne Grammar's one goal two behinds. The gloom in the MGS camp was so profound there has been nothing like it since Prince Albert or Queen Victoria passed away.

After the match, the Governor-general Peter Hollingworth, unveiled the sculpture, which is close to the MCG members' entrance. It depicts two Scotch and Grammar boys going for the ball and behind them is Tommy Wills, generally considered to be the father of Aussie rules. He was one of two umpires on the day.

Oddly enough, the Australian Football League thought again about having two umpires about 142 years later.


Tattersall's Media Centre

Dennis Lillee Statue Unveiled At MCG  

Date released:
  
22/12/2006


On the eve of the Melbourne Cricket Ground’s (MCG) 100th Test match, Dennis Lillee, one of Australian cricket’s greatest fast bowlers, joined a distinguished group of sporting champions when he unveiled his statue at the famous stadium today.

The Louis Laumen work is the last of 10 statues commissioned for the $1.1 million Parade of the Champions program sponsored by Tattersall’s. Featuring the great fast bowler in full flight, the bronzed statue is located outside Gate 1 at the MCG next to Bill Ponsford.

An inaugural inductee into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame, Lillee is in rare company. Only four cricketers were included in the 10 champions selected to represent the major sports showcased at the MCG since the Yarra Park site was established in 1853. The list of those honoured comprises:

# Sir Donald Bradman  

# Betty Cuthbert

# Ron Barassi

# Keith Miller

# Dick Reynolds                                                


# Shirley Strickland

# Haydn Bunton

# Leigh Matthews

# Bill Ponsford

# Dennis Lillee

MCC president David Jones said Lillee was a worthy inclusion in the MCG’s pantheon of sporting greats.

Dennis Lillee was the most accomplished and consistently hostile fast bowler of his time,” said Mr Jones. “His career was exemplary and we’re delighted to honour him at the MCG.”

Tattersall’s sponsorship manager, Peter Franich, said the magnificent statue of Dennis Lillee will take pride of place at the MCG as a symbol of sportsmanship with which all Australians would identify.

“By honouring Dennis we recognise not only his personal achievements but also his outstanding contribution to the entire sporting community,” said Mr Franich. “Tattersall’s has been delighted to be part of this project to honour our great sporting champions.”

With the MCG redevelopment completed, sportslovers now have a constant reminder of the champions who have graced the MCG as they make their way into the mighty stadium.


Lill-ee, Lill-ee Lill-ee, Lill-ee   



Greg Baum  
December 23, 2006

Dennis Lillee and long-time friend and teammate Rod Marsh lap up the launch of the Lillee sculpture at the MCG.
Photo: Vince Caligiuri
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THE State Government is pressing the Melbourne Cricket Club for an early announcement on how Shane Warne will be honoured at the MCG. Neither the MCC nor the MCG Trust is inclined to rush.

It took 50 years for Bill Ponsford to have a stand at the MCG named in his honour. It took until yesterday for Dennis Lillee to be erected there in bronze. These also were giants of the grand old ground.

Rightly, club and trust will allow contemplations to settle and mature before it acts. Warne’s place at the forefront of legend is assured, but his place at the MCG will be chosen carefully.

The least likely man to argue this is Warne, for whom Lillee was a hero. Next week belongs to Warne. Yesterday belonged to Lillee. It is more than 20 years since he played, and so too easily forgotten that he was, like Warne, a colossus. In 14 matches at the MCG, Lillee took 82 wickets. One of those wickets gave him the Test record for an Australian, surpassing Richie Benaud’s 248.

Another gave him the world record, surpassing Lance Gibbs’ 309. These figures pale besides Warne’s, which shows only the inadequacy of figures. Lillee, like Warne, inspired a generation.

It was a hairychested time of big manes, bristling moustaches, fast bowling and full-strength beer, with no limits in the outer and few on the ground. Australia was again feeling its oats after a period of subjugation. Lillee was the standardbearer. “Lillee, Lillee,” the crowd chanted the day he claimed the world record, and the echo could be heard faintly yesterday.

Momentarily overwhelmed, Lillee walked to third man instead of fine leg at the end of the over. It served only to make the moment more magnificent. If there is a gram of sentimentalism in Ricky Ponting next week, he will dispatch Warne to the outfield for a quarter of an hour after taking his 700th wicket.

Lillee appeared at the MCG yesterday in rarely seen forms: bald, in a suit, in sunglasses — borrowed because the midday sun was playing havoc with an eye condition — but above all as a statue, the 10th and last in the MCG’s Parade of Champions.

Truth be told, the statue was more instantly recognisable than the man. It is a compliment to sculptor Louis Laumen that, from any and every angle, his work is distinctively and unmistakeably Lillee in his majesty.

Even from above and behind, from where Laumen can rarely have reviewed it, but from which prospect lunch guests in the Hans Ebeling Room yesterday gazed down upon it, the image is minutely faithful.

Moreover, availing himself of technologies that were not available to Michelangelo, Laumen has cast Lillee in mid-delivery stride, leaping high above his plinth, from this day forever about to deliver.
“This is humbling, I must tell you,” Lillee said. “It’s an absolute honour to be made into a statue at one of my favourite grounds.”

The unveiling would always be an occasion. The timing, in the lee of what MCC committeeman David Crow called “probably our biggest-ever Test match”, elevated it further.

Many of Lillee’s teammates and contemporaries came to pay respects. So did Derek Underwood, a frequent and worthy opponent. The award winning Blackburn High School band accompanied the formalities.

More than that, there were hundreds of incidentals. The concourse was teeming, for in anticipation of the fourth Test, the MCG is already the place to be. The MCC’s peerless master-of-ceremonies Tony Charlton introduced Lillee as a “modern-day lionheart”.

Naturally, Rod Marsh sat alongside Lillee. Marsh was Lillee’s wicketkeeper, and the 95 dismissals they shared remains a record; those figures do not lie. “He presented me with catch after catch after catch,” Marsh said. It is two decades since they ruled, and their lives have taken many turns.

Marsh headed the Australian cricket academy, then the English cricket academy, and lives now in Adelaide. Lillee, done with trying to beat them, has joined them, and is chairman of the Western Australian Cricket Association.

Otherwise, he occupies himself fully with his fast bowling institute in Chennai, which is now in its 20th year. He is, after all, the supreme authority.

"I hope that statue is larger than life," said Marsh when it was still in its billowing shroud. "Because when he walked on to a cricket field, he was larger than life. He owned each ground he walked on, but none more than this one."

Marsh said the truly remarkable aspect of Lillee's performances on the MCG was that the pitch at the time was a pudding, unsuited to fast bowling. It is an old sore point with the MCC. Lillee rubbed it again, saying that the MCG had been his favourite ground, but not his favourite pitch.

Nonetheless, it drew the best out of Lillee. Marsh said that Lillee, like Warne, was at his best when circumstances were at their most adverse. It is the perversion of the greats. "He loved a challenge," Marsh said. "When there was juice in the track, he got too excited, like all fast bowlers. He wanted to take a wicket with every ball."

Marsh, who was for a while Lillee's captain in Western Australia, said Lillee was addicted to his craft. "He just wanted to bowl," he said. "He love bowling." Here also resonates the story of Warne.

Duly, Lillee broke down. Charlton recalled his alarm when putting his hand on Lillee's back at an awards night when he was at his peak and discovering a disguised brace. Marsh said Lillee was essentially "the first fast bowler to be diagnosed with a broken back".

He returned after a year with a remodelled action, a little slower, even better. It was in this rehabilitated guise that he enjoyed his two finest hours at the MCG. The first was the storied Centenary Test in 1977, when he took 11 wickets to beat England. England's Derek Randall made 174 in the second innings to win man of the match, but Marsh was still protesting yesterday. Randall, he said, had made the match, Lillee had won it.

The second was on Boxing Day, 1981. Kim Hughes made a defiant 100 not out in Australia's modest 189, but when Lillee bowled Viv Richards with the last ball of the day, the West Indies were 4-10.

Lillee, following through, did not stop running until he reached the pavilion. Everything seemed possible then. At length, Lillee took 11 wickets, and Australia celebrated a then-rare win over the Windies. It was Lillee's second-last MCG Test.

The MCG loved Lillee. It was reciprocal. Lillee said yesterday that there was no better crowd than Melbourne's.

Many times, he said, it had lifted him. "When I think of the MCG," he said, "I think of it not as a place for players, but for the people."

On Boxing Day, there will be 95,000 amens.

 

Bradman finds a home at the 'G  
  
           
Wednesday, May 14, 2003 

A magnificent bronzed sculpture of Australia’s greatest ever cricketer, Sir Donald Bradman, has been unveiled at the Melbourne Cricket Ground as part of the stadium’s $430m redevelopment project.

Sir Donald Bradman statueBradman was named last September as the first of 10 outstanding sportsmen and women whose statues will comprise the Tattersall’s-sponsored “Parade of the Champions” outside the MCG.

The statue depicts ‘The Don’ in familiar pose outside the Bradman Gate entrance to the Great Southern Stand. The likeness is uncanny.

The statues are being sculpted by Louis Laumen, whose outstanding works include the Victor Trumper and First Football Match statues standing in the gardens outside the Australian Gallery of Sport and Olympic Museum. The other nine subjects have been chosen on the basis of their sporting connection to the MCG.

The next statue to be unveiled will be that of Betty Cuthbert later this year. Other subjects to find a permanent home at the ground include Leigh Matthews, Ron Barassi, Haydn Bunton, Dick Reynolds, Shirley Strickland, Bill Ponsford, Dennis Lillee and Keith Miller.

Sir Donald BradmanTattersall's trustee Peter Kerr said he was delighted to be associated with such a milestone project at the people's ground. Mr Kerr said Tattersall's would always embrace any project which aimed to further highlight the history of the nation's greatest sporting stadium and its finest performers.

MCC General Manager Stephen Gough applauded the contribution of Tattersall's to one of the country's most important projects. "The MCG is a magnet for tourists worldwide and the Tattersall’s Parade of the Champions will strongly reinforce the association between the elite sportsmen and women who have competed here and the stadium that rejoiced in their performances."

The selection panel comprised of Brownlow Medallist and former MCC president Donald Cordner (chairman), noted journalist and Olympic historian Harry Gordon, former MCC secretary and Sheffield Shield cricketer John Lill, veteran media commentator Tony Charlton and senior Herald Sun journalist Ron Reed.

Three pieces will be completed annually. They will be about one-and-half life sizes tall (approx 2.75 metres)and stand on an inscribed plinth two metres high. Security lighting and 24-hour video surveillance will protect the works.

The $1 million Tattersall’s Parade of the Champions undertaking is a gift to the people of Australia from Tattersall’s and it will be a focal point of the Yarra Park precinct when the MCG works are completed in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2006.    



Betty Cuthbert's MCG statue unveiled

Friday, August 8, 2003                                                                                   

Betty Cuthbert with her bronzed statueAustralia’s Golden Girl, Betty Cuthbert, has been immortalised in bronze at the MCG.

Her statue, positioned on the Great Southern Stand concourse near the Bill Woodfull Gate, was unveiled today by Premier Steve Bracks and Betty, who flew from Mandurah, south of Perth, for the occasion.

The Louis Laumen work is magnificent, capturing Cuthbert in full stride with mouth agape as she hurtled to victory in the 100 metres at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne. It is the second of 10 statues commissioned as part of the Tattersall’s “Parade of the Champions” project, a $1 million gift to the people of Australia.

The statues will be unveiled progressively leading up to the Commonwealth Games in March 2006.

Tattersall’s chairman of trustees Ray Hornsby said few people epitomised the term champion more comprehensively than Betty Cuthbert. “Not only was Betty a champion athlete, winning four Olympic Gold medals,” said Mr Hornsby, ”she also has proven to be one of life’s champions, a wonderful person and a magnificent role model for young Australians.

“Tattersall’s is delighted to be associated with a project that puts such a very public spotlight on these icons of Australian sport at the country’s finest stadium.”

AOC board member Susie O'Neill and Don BeaurepaireThe unveiling ceremony was attended by senior members of the Australian Olympic Committee, who were at the MCG to farewell the Gallery of Sport’s Olympic Exhibition prior to the building’s demolition in November. Judy Patching, an Olympic official of nearly 50 years’ standing, spoke warmly of his close association with Betty since he started her races at the Melbourne Games.

“I started her three Gold medal events at Melbourne and was assistant general manager in Tokyo when Betty won the 400 metres, and we’ve been terrific chums ever since,” said Mr Patching. “She was a great athlete, but modest to the point of being humble, and she’s proven to be an even greater person. I’ve never heard her complain about anything in all the time I’ve known her.”

Next assignment for Louis Laumen in the Parade of the Champions project is the Ron Barassi statue which will be unveiled on September 22. Then follows the great all-rounder Keith “Nugget” Miller, whose bronze likeness will be unveiled in January 2004. Meantime, football fans attending tonight’s match will be able to see the Cuthbert statue in all its glory outside Gate 6 in the Great Southern Stand.


Barassi statue unveiled at the MCG      Monday, September 22, 2003




Ron Barassi with his statueAustralian football legend Ron Barassi has been immortalised in bronze at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The famous Number 31’s statue was unveiled today by AFL Commission chairman Ron Evans. The ceremony was attended by a wide range of officials and teammates drawn from the four clubs he either coached or played for during an illustrious career spanning 17 Grand Finals and 10 premierships.

The Louis Laumen work, standing outside Gate 8 of the Great Southern Stand, brilliantly depicts Barassi finishing off a typical charge out of the MCG centre with a long kick into the forward line. It is the third statue to be unveiled in a series of 10 commissioned for the Tattersall’s “Parade of the Champions” project, a gift to the people of Australia.

Ron Barassi and grandchildrenThe first two honoured Don Bradman and Betty Cuthbert and the next subject is the everpopular Keith “Nugget” Miller, whose statue will be unveiled during next summer’s One Day International series. The project will be completed in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2006.

Tattersall’s director Peter Kerr said the magnificent statue of Ron Barassi would take pride of place at the MCG as a symbol of sportsmanship with which all Australians would identify.

“Ron has already cemented his place in the history of Australian Rules football,” Mr Kerr said, “but by honouring Ron here today we are recognising not only his personal achievements but also his outstanding contribution to the entire sporting community.”

Ron Barassi admires his statueMCC president David Jones said the club was privileged to manage the Parade of the Champions project on behalf of Tattersall’s and the sporting public of Australia would applaud the quality of all those who have been honoured.
“However, few sportsmen or women have left such an indelible mark, or had such an enormous impact, on their sport as Ron Barassi has on football,” Mr Jones said. “It is entirely fitting that football’s number one performer over the last half-century – and a hero to many – should be recognised here permanently at the home of football, the MCG.”  

           

Ponsford statue unveiled at the 'G
Friday, December 16, 2005

The Bill Ponsford statueCricket legend Bill Ponsford, one of Australia’s greatest batsmen and inaugural inductee into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame, joined a distinguished group of sporting champions when his statue was unveiled at the MCG by his two sons, Bill Jr and Geoff Ponsford.

The Louis Laumen work is the ninth of 10 statues commissioned for the $1.1 million Parade of the Champions program sponsored by Tattersall’s.

“Ponny” is in rare company. Only four cricketers were included in the 10 champions selected to represent the major sports showcased at the MCG since the Yarra Park site was established in 1853.

When the final statue of Dennis Lillee is completed in December 2006, the list of those honoured will comprise:

• Sir Donald Bradman
• Betty Cuthbert
• Ron Barassi
• Keith Miller
• Dick Reynolds
• Shirley Strickland
• Haydn Bunton
• Leigh Matthews
• Bill Ponsford
• Dennis Lillee

MCC president David Jones said Bill Ponsford was a worthy inclusion in the MCG’s pantheon of sporting greats.

“Were it not for Don Bradman, it is quite possible that Bill Ponsford would have been acclaimed across the continent as our country's greatest run-making machine,” Mr Jones said. “His career both for Australia and Victoria was exemplary and we’re delighted to honour him at the MCG.”

The great Bill PonsfordTattersall’s Limited CEO / Managing Director, Mr Duncan Fischer, said, “This outstanding project is a gift from Tattersall’s to the people of Australia. We trust the statue of Bill Ponsford will take pride of place at the MCG as a symbol of sportsmanship that all Australians can be proud of.”

“We’re delighted that with the Commonwealth Games just a few months away, this statue, along with other key Australian sports people immortalised in bronze, will be a key attraction for the thousands of tourists visiting Melbourne”.

With the MCG redevelopment project nearing completion, sportslovers will soon have a constant reminder of the champions who have graced the MCG as they make their way into the mighty stadium.


                                                                                                                                                                                     
MCG statue honours Leigh Matthews

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Champion Hawthorn rover/forward and four-time premiership coach Leigh Matthews joined a distinguished group of sporting champions when his statue was unveiled at the MCG on Saturday by former teammate and coach, David Parkin.

The Louis Laumen work is the eighth of 10 statues commissioned for the $1.1 million Parade of the Champions program sponsored by Tattersall’s.

Leigh Matthews and his MCG statueWhen the final two statues are completed before the Commonwealth Games in March 2006, the list of those honoured will comprise:

• Sir Donald Bradman
• Betty Cuthbert
• Ron Barassi
• Keith Miller
• Dick Reynolds
• Shirley Strickland
• Haydn Bunton
• Leigh Matthews
• Dennis Lillee
• Bill Ponsford

“Lethal Leigh” is in rare company. Only four footballers were included in the 10 champions selected to represent the major sports showcased at the MCG since the Yarra Park site was established in 1853.

His record as a player is outstanding. Matthews represented Victoria 14 times during his 332 games for the Hawks, kicking 915 goals to become football’s most prolific goal-scoring rover.

He captained his club from 1981 until retirement in 1985 and played in four premiership sides.

His coaching record is equally impressive. Collingwood won a flag in 1990 under his mentorship at the club (1986-95) and Brisbane won three premierships in a row (2001-03) after he took up the reins there in 1999.

MCC president David Jones said Leigh Matthews was a worthy representative of the modern era’s champion footballers.

Allan Jeans, Dipper and Dermie at the unveiling“No matter your allegiance, he was one of the players you’d always want in your side,” Mr Jones said. “His career both as player and coach ranks with any other footballer in history and we’re delighted to honour him at the MCG.”

Tattersall’s Limited director, Brian Jamieson, said: “The magnificent statue of Leigh Matthews will take pride of place at the MCG where the Australian sporting public pays homage to their champions.”

With the MCG redevelopment project nearing completion, sportslovers will soon have a constant reminder of the champions who have graced the MCG as they make their way into the mighty stadium.
       

      

Keith Miller honoured at the MCG
Monday, February 16, 2004














Keith Miller with his statue at the MCGAustralia’s finest all-rounder, Keith Miller, is the latest sporting champion to be honoured in the Tattersall’s Parade of the Champions project at the MCG.
A statue depicting Miller in familiar swashbuckling pose was unveiled today by Cricket Australia chairman Bob Merriman. Eighty-five-year-old Miller was in attendance.

The magnificent Louis Laumen work is the fourth in a series of 10 statues commissioned for the Parade of the Champions, a $1.1 million undertaking scheduled for completion before the Commonwealth Games in 2006.

Statues of Don Bradman, Betty Cuthbert and Ron Barassi have been unveiled previously and they are now joined on the Great Southern Stand concourse by the Keith Miller piece.

Tattersall’s trustee William Adams said Miller personified everything that was good about sport and he was a most worthy subject for the Parade of the Champions. “Not only was Keith one of our greatest cricketers, he also was a first-class footballer, playing for St Kilda and representing Victoria before devoting himself to the summer game,” Mr Adams said.

Tattersall's""But his immense popularity here and abroad was not just because he could bat and bowl as well as anyone. It was because of his wonderful approach to the game as a bit of sport, not necessarily an international confrontation. No wonder he has enjoyed so many friendships all around the cricket world.

"It is appropriate that Tattersall’s celebrates the unveiling of the Miller statue in 2004 – a year that also marks the centenary of the establishment of the will of the late George Adams, Tattersall’s founder and one of Australia’s greatest entrepreneurs and philanthropists,” Mr Williams added.
       

Fitzroy legend Bunton immortalised at MCG
Saturday, April 16, 2005

Haydn Bunton's sons with the great man's statueA statue of Fitzroy champion Haydn Bunton was unveiled today at the MCG. It is the seventh work completed by eminent sculptor Louis Laumen in a series of 10 commissioned for the Tattersall’s Parade of the Champions project that will grace the big stadium in time for the Commonwealth Games in March 2006.

Few footballers of any era have been so admired and respected as Haydn Bunton, the Fitzroy dynamo with skill to burn and movie-star looks who thrilled fans (and the ladies) from the moment he first turned out for the Maroons in 1931.

Bunton won the Brownlow Medal in his first two seasons of football and again in 1935, becoming the first player to win the VFL’s highest award three times. He also won WA’s Sandover Medal three times after transferring to Subiaco in 1938.

When war intervened he returned to Victoria and played a few games with his old club in 1942.

Noted for both his brilliance and endurance, Bunton was beautifully balanced, roving all day and dominating matches with magnificent judgment and constructive handball. He represented Victoria on 12 occasions and Western Australia three times.

Bunton is in rare company as a member of the Tattersall’s Parade of the Champions. Only three other footballers are honoured – Dick Reynolds, Ron Barassi and Leigh Matthews. The latter’s statue will be unveiled before the Hawthorn-Sydney match on August 27.

The Bunton statue joins those of Don Bradman, Betty Cuthbert, Ron Barassi, Keith Miller, Dick Reynolds and Shirley Strickland unveiled since 2002.

Tattersall's managing director, Mr Duncan Fischer, said the company was proud to sponsor the Parade of Champions at the MCG in the lead up to the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

“As the redevelopment project moves into its final stages, we are very pleased to see the statues of MCG champions waiting in the wings to enhance the overall appeal of the stadium precinct,” he said.

“We believe these statues help set the scene as people arrive at the ground and they’ve already proven to be of great interest to tourists visiting the MCG.

"For the generations who knew Haydn Bunton, and for those who have followed his remarkable career, this statue is a fitting tribute to one of Australia's great sporting heroes and a role model for all," Mr Fischer said.



King Richard reigns at MCG

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Dick Reynolds' statueOne of football's greats was honoured at the MCG this morning when a statue of Essendon legend Dick Reynolds was unveiled by champion Bomber rover of the fifties and sixties, John Birt.

The statue is the fifth in a series of 10 commissioned as part of the $1.1 million Tattersall's Parade of the Champion project, a gift to the people of Australia.

The Louis Laumen work has been preceded by statues of Sir Donald Bradman, Betty Cuthbert, Ron Barassi and Keith Miller and will be followed by Shirley Strickland de la Hunty, Haydn Bunton, Dennis Lillee, Leigh Matthews and Bill Ponsford.

Reynolds, known widely as "King Richard" because of his dominance during a career embracing four premierships, seven Best and Fairest awards and 320 games, won three Brownlow Medals and was an inaugural legend in the AFL Hall of Fame.

He was captain-coach of the Bombers from 1939-50 and continued as non-playing coach until 1960. He represented Victoria 17 times, six as captain, and his contribution to modern football is without parallel.

Widow Jean and grandson admire the Reynolds statueTattersall's Chief Financial Officer, Ray Gunston, said the magnificent statue of Dick Reynolds would take pride of place at the MCG as a symbol of sportsmanship with which all Australians would identify.

"Dick has already cemented his place in the history of Australian Rules football," Mr Gunston said, "but by honouring Dick here today we are recognising not only his personal achievements but also his outstanding contribution to the entire sporting community."

The Tattersall's Parade of the Champions project will be completed in time for the Commonwealth Games in March 2006.






Strickland honoured with statue
Monday, November 22, 2004

Shirley Strickland's children with her MCG statueA statue of Shirley Strickland de la Hunty was unveiled today at the MCG by three of her children – Barbara, Matthew and Philip – the sixth of 10 statues commissioned for the Tattersall’s Parade of the Champions program.

Governor John Landy spoke of Shirley’s illustrious career as one of the country’s finest athletes.

Shirley, who died in February aged 78, won more Olympic medals than any Australian female athlete. Her tally of seven won during the London, Helsinki and Melbourne Games stood as a world record for 20 years.

She famously won two Gold medals at the Melbourne Games and today’s unveiling celebrates the 48th anniversary of the opening ceremony on November 22, 1956.

Strickland in the 80m hurdles at the 1956 OlympicsShirley’s distinguished career is studded with “firsts”. She was the first woman to win a track and field medal for Australia and the nation’s only track and field athlete of either sex to win back-to-back Gold medals. And no other woman has ever won successive Olympic hurdles events.

The Louis Laumen statue of Strickland de la Hunty joins Sir Donald Bradman, Betty Cuthbert, Ron Barassi, Keith Miller and Dick Reynolds to have been unveiled progressively since 2002.

Haydn Bunton, Bill Ponsford, Dennis Lillee and Leigh Matthews will also be honoured before the program is completed in 2006.

Tattersall’s General Manager Corporate Simon Doyle said: “For those who saw her on the track and for the generations that follow, this statue in the Tattersall’s Parade of the Champions at the MCG not only honours her remarkable accomplishments as one of our sporting heroes. It also honours a remarkable woman who was and remains a role model for all Australians.”

Shirley Strickland with her collection at the MCGIn 2001 Shirley’s magnificent collection of memorabilia – perhaps the world’s finest – was purchased by an anonymous group of philanthropists who have entrusted it to the Australian Gallery of Sport and Olympic Museum at the MCG.

The Strickland collection will take pride of place in the new MCG City complex when the ground’s heritage operations return to full strength in late-2006.




Back to the Bronze age


June 14 2003

Photo: MELANIE DOVE

Naz DiMaio pours bronze heated to 750 degrees at the Fundere Foundry in Richmond.



In the heart of industrial Richmond, some of the country's leading artists make bronze sculptures using age-old techniques, writes Louise Bellamy

The Fundere Fine Art Foundry is massive, with a concrete floor and a sky-high ceiling. In winter it is ice cold and floods; in summer you can bake bread in there, it's so hot.

At the front are the studios where artists such as Geoffrey Ricardo, John Kelly, Yvonne Kendall, Dean Bowen and Geoffrey Bartlett take creative flight in spaces divided only by wooden partitions or cloth sheets.

But down the long corridor and around a couple of corners the peaceful vignette changes. Here, amid acres of dust and myriad tools, the foundry's furnace roars and workers in boiler suits wearing protective face masks get on with the business of drilling, sawing, heating, pouring and welding materials that will transform into bronze sculptures. Some will be exhibited in galleries; others are destined for public spaces.

Prominent Australian sculptor Louis Laumen is working on one of the largest sculpture projects commissioned in Australia, Tattersall's $1million Parade of Champions, which will take more than three years to complete.

Laumen studied fine art at the Victorian College of the Arts in the early 1980s and has been a full-time artist since 1995. He is one of a handful of classical figurative sculptors in Australia and has several- Melbourne landmarks to his credit, including cricketer Victor Trumper at the MCG, Widow and Children at the Shrine of Remembrance, and St Francis of Assisi and St Catherine of Sienna outside St Patrick's Cathedral.

The other artists at Fundere concentrate on contemporary works.

Laumen's brief, to coincide with the completion of the $425million redevelopment of the MCG in time for the 2006Commonwealth Games, is to make 10 bronze sculptures of Australian sports people associated with the famous ground. They are footballers Ron Barassi, Dick Reynolds, Haydn Bunton and Leigh Matthews; cricketers Sir Donald Bradman, Bill Ponsford, Keith Miller and Dennis Lillee; and athletes Betty Cuthbert and Shirley Strickland.

Standing in his studio at the Fundere Foundry, Laumen, who is a broad, tall man in his mid-40s, is dwarfed by the imposing clay mould he is working on of Barassi.

Each statue, he explains, is one-and-a-half times the life size of its subject and involves around 500 hours of work, a combination of his creativity and the skills of precious-metals experts and foundry hands.

Laumen hopes to complete three of the commissioned sculptures a year. Bradman is already finished, Cuthbert is in pieces and Barassi still on the drawing board.

The long process begins with a series of charcoal drawings to determine the subject's facial expression, based on old photographs and film footage. Then more studies are undertaken, this time drawings based on a live nude model who conforms to each subject's physical proportions. Later the model is dressed in clothes, which Laumen makes, based on old photographs and footage, because, as he explains "there's no way you can buy a pair of shorts or a guernsey Barassi wore in the '50s off the rack".

After about eight weeks Laumen is ready to begin the sculpting process, which involves "packing and splashing' clay onto the armature - a skeletal image of the subject in action, made of steel rods and tubing, a process that takes up to two more months.

"For a classical figure you need to have a rational approach," Laumen says. "You don't go crazy and hope something emerges. I work the clay for six to eight weeks, for hours a day, every day, feeling and searching for the person through movement and balance.
Beazley and Crean

Sculptor Louis Laumen with his statue of St Francis of Assisi, outside St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne.
PICTURE: MELANIE DOVE

"The exciting part is when you get to a certain level of detail, say, the facial likeness. If all is going well, there's a point where the likeness, the amalgam of many images, fits into place."

Unlike many visual artists who beaver away in their studios alone and unaided, sculptors who work in bronze cannot work alone.

Fundere director Cameron McIndoe, who has run the Richmond foundry with partner Sean Elliot for eight years, has about 20 Australian artists on his books and eight employees. Over the past two years, Kelly, Bowen and Laumen, along with students from the Centre of Adult Education and local secondary schools, have dominated business. There are two other such foundries in Melbourne - Meridian Sculptures and Coates & Wood - which also work with artists.

Although gas furnaces now melt the wax and electric welding machines join the bronze pieces together, Laumen's technique is much the same as that practised by the masters hundreds of years ago.

It is called the lost wax technique, a process that starts when the clay model is finished. The model is painted with liquid rubber, which supplies texture, and fibreglass resin, which strengthens the mould. When these are dry, the shell is pulled away from the original clay in sections - two pieces each for the arms, legs, torso, head, hands and so on - and painted with petrochemical wax. This captures the fine detail the artist has created.

The mould is then reassembled with nuts and bolts, and molten wax is poured into it and swirled around inside the mould until it reaches an even thickness of around six millimetres, which will end up being the thickness of the bronze.

The wax impressions are then covered in ceramic and put in the kiln at 750 degrees until all the wax melts and runs out, creating another hollow for the bronze liquid to be poured into.

When the bronze has cooled, the ceramic is chiselled off and the bronze surfaces reworked with grinders, hammers and chisels before the separate pieces are welded back together.

"It's known as chasing the bronze cast," McIndoe explains.

Some 500 hours later, the patina - potassium polysulphide for a brown effect, cupric nitrate for green or ferric nitrate for rust - is applied.

Despite the obvious commitment to the task, Laumen says the Parade of Champions is daunting. "With 10 subjects I'm endeavouring to go from images of extreme action to repose as the project begs variety and relief. In any sport there are triumphal moments and anticipatory ones."

The Bradman sculpture has been installed temporarily outside Gate 7 of the MCG. "

In a profession where commissions are hard to get and a good year might mean one, maybe two sculptures, at best, Laumen is, by his own admission, "over the moon". But success has come at a price. The contemporary art world, he volunteers, "loathes my sort of work; it has a visceral hatred of it.

"It took me a decade to make my mark and I realised that if I wanted to do this, I'd have to give something up, and I gave up the gallery circuit a long time ago."

He adds that making his saints outside St Patrick's Cathedral was easier than his present job. "The saints are such way-out creatures; they lend themselves to the imagination. But Lethal Leigh has to look like Lethal Leigh or I'm in trouble."


Sculptors and a cast of thousands

September 3, 2005

Sculptor Louis Laumen with his bronze sculpture of St Francis of Assisi.

Sculptor Louis Laumen with his bronze sculpture of St Francis of Assisi.
Photo: Melanie Faith Dove

Louise Bellamy talks to the artists who work in bronze and their relationship with foundries.

In a desolate street in the industrial heart of West Footscray, prominent Melbourne sculptor Louis Laumen is meeting his toughest deadline: the completion of the $1 million Tattersall's Parade of Champions, one of the largest bronze sculpture commissions in Australia's history, to coincide with the completion of the redevelopment of the MCG for the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Laumen's "home" for the past two years has been Fundere Fine Art Foundry, where he spends about 500 hours on each sculpture. Several of the 10 bronzes - depicting Australian sports people associated with the MCG - have already been unofficially unveiled: cricketers Don Bradman and Keith Miller; footballers Ron Barassi, Dick Reynolds and Haydn Bunton; and athletes Betty Cuthbert and Shirley Strickland.

Laumen is now completing the cast of "Lethal" Leigh Matthews and has Bill Ponsford and Dennis Lillee to go.

In Melbourne's small world of bronze art, which comprises a handful of classic figurative sculptors vying for expensive public commissions, and even fewer foundries, Laumen, 46, has the plum job. And the deluge of work - three times as much as he'd usually handle - is pushing him to new heights.
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"My ongoing attraction is the figure in motion. The hardest part is capturing the indefinable presence of a person. As the project continues, my standards are getting higher and higher," he says.

Trained at the Victorian College of the Arts in the early '80s, Laumen's career took a decade to take off, as the classical figures he originally submitted to private galleries "were viewed with contempt". It wasn't until the mid-'90s with his first public commission, of Edward "Weary" Dunlop for the Benalla Rose Gardens (originally rejected in favour of sculptor Peter Corlett's work in St Kilda Road) that Laumen's career took flight.

All the MCG sculptures are 1.5 times life size and begin with charcoal drawings based on photographs and footage. Laumen then moulds the clay on to hand-made steel armature based on nude models, then dressed models, which he reworks for up to two months. Frequent discussions with the MCG committee also occur.

There is also lots of debate with the technicians, Fundere directors Cameron McIndoe and Sean Elliott, as the collaboration between artist and artisan is peculiar to this medium: foundries need artists and artists who work in bronze cannot do it alone. The Bradman piece, the first to be completed, is a case in point. Initially the MCG committee wanted an action image but the one chosen when viewed from ground level, would have masked Bradman's face with his arm. Later, after discussion between the committee and McIndoe and Elliott, the image in which the cricketer's famous bat and expression capturing his legendary acknowledgement of the crowd came up trumps.

While gas furnaces now melt the wax and electric welding machines put the bronze pieces back together, the process, the lost-wax method, which dates to 2000BC, when it was developed in China, has largely remained the same.

First, the clay model is divided into six or eight pieces, replicated in wax moulds, remodelled to remove any imperfections, invested in ceramic shells and heated in a kiln. The shells are then buried in sand and liquid bronze - melted tin and copper - poured, cooled and water-blasted for hours to remove the ceramic shell. Later the individual pieces are welded back together and the patina applied.

It's a process, Elliott says, "where hundreds of variables that can, and do, go wrong". He is talking about getting the temperatures and consistencies right and, worst of all, the possibility of dropping the mould in the process.

Elliott is the first to admit Laumen "pays our mortgages" and that rent from the 17 artists' studios "puts the petrol in our cars". Foundries can take anywhere from 15 to 60 per cent of an artist's budget, depending on how much casting is involved. Fundere's share of the MCG job is about 40 per cent, which, Elliott says, covers wages as well as equipment and power over three years.

While bronze is expensive, and therefore competes with other material, its durability is its appeal. "Apart from a civil war decimating the sculptures, everything we make will be around long after the skyscrapers fall," Elliott says.

The number of Melbourne spaces allocated to sculpture parks at Werribee, Docklands and McClelland Sculpture Park, Langwarrin, as well as the Heide Museum of Modern Art, Bulleen, have their fair share of bronze works as the number of artists using them - including Dean Bowen, John Kelly, Geoffrey Ricardo, Geoffrey Bartlett and Lis Johnson for whom Fundere cast - grows.

At Coates & Wood Sculpture Foundry, Collingwood, partner Ewen Coates is a sculptor in his own right and one of 22 sculptors chosen for a national sculpture show in July at the Australian National Gallery. He uses the business to subsidise his art and says "it works well because the clients and I speak the same language".

The backbone of its work is from Melbourne sculptor Pauline Clayton, who specialises in contemporary religious images. Because of "the closeness of the working relationship with Clayton", Wood says they split the budget 50-50. Artists on its books include Peter Blizzard and 2005 Lempriere Sculpture prizewinner William Eicholtz.

Meridian Sculpture Founders, Fitzroy, started by Peter Morely in 1973, is the oldest - and largest - Melbourne bronze-casting foundry. Before its formation, clay models were shipped to England and Europe for casting.

While Fundere boasts Laumen as its main breadwinner in the public commission stakes, Morely cites "a number of Laumens", including Corlett and Peter Schipperheyn. It also casts for artists Lisa Roet, Ron Robertson-Swann and Maria Kuczynska.

Meridian is casting Schipperheyn's four-metre male nude, Zarathusttra, a Dame Elisabeth Murdoch commission for McClelland Sculpture Park. While most public commissions, such as Laumen's, are premised on significant client input, the $300,000 project, Schipperheyn explains, is unusual, in that "after Dame Elisabeth saw the marquette, she supported its progression to a large-scale sculpture in good faith".

Perrin Sculpture Foundry, Cheltenham, may be small but with leading Australian artist Rick Amor on its books, Bill Perrin, who also teaches at the VCA, has run the business for more than 10 years. "I can't put all my eggs into one basket," he says referring to Amor and says Sister Gail O'Leary, a Melbourne-based religious sculptor, is another continued source of work.

Like Coates, Perrin also casts his own work and last month attracted publicity for his three bronze milk crates unveiled at St Kilda's O'Donnell Gardens, a homage to two Aboriginal elders. His Tommy's Story, bronze army clothing placed on a bluestone wall in Beaconsfield Parade, Middle Park, are well-known seaside icons that stop walkers in their tracks.


Melbourne to honour Italian patron saints

New statues of St Francis of Asissi and Saint Catherine of Siena will be blessed and dedicated this Sunday at an unveiling ceremony in the grounds of Melbourne's St Patrick’s Cathedral.
Archbishop George Pell told the Archdiocesan newspaper Kairos: "It is essential that we both recognise and support the contribution of the Italian community by a public statement such as the commissioning of these two statues. Their placement in the grounds of the Mother Church of Melbourne is a reminder of the importance of the faith and loyalty of the Italian Community."
The paper said that the Church and wider society of Melbourne have been immeasurably enriched by the presence and work of the Italian community for more than one hundred years, and more particularly since the great waves of migration to this country after the Second World War.
The statues were sculpted by Louis Laumen, a Melbourne based artist who also created the monument to Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop at Benalla, Dunlop’s birthplace. They represent the two saints’ sharing in the suffering of Christ, St Francis with the stigmata and St Catherine holding the crown of thorns. The strength and the single-minded devotion of the saints is portrayed in the simple, yet dramatic lines of the sculptures.
The statues will be situated at the top of the new gardens and waterway (Pilgrim’s Walk) which leads to the side entrance of the cathedral. Pilgrim’s Walk is so named as it is the principal approach to the Cathedral used by the 250,000 tourists who visit the Cathedral each year and also by the many parish groups who come to the Cathedral as on a pilgrimage to the Mother Church of the archdiocese.
This project has been funded by the Archdiocese with the help of Italian businesses. A major contribution has come from the Grollo family.
   



St Patrick's Pilgrim Path

by Fr Gerard Dowling,
Dean Emeritus of St Patrick's Cathedral

Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which stands majestically on Eastern Hill, has long established itself as a church edifice of superb grandeur and arguably one of the truly significant cathedrals of the world. From its consecration in 1897 to its ultimate completion in 1939 by the erection of its triple spires, it provides a continued act of adoration in stone and offers a superb setting of liturgical worship for the people of the archdiocese.

Those of us who have had the wonderful opportunity of visiting some of the great cathedrals of the world will be only too well aware that each one is individualised not merely by its particular design, but by the unique setting in which it stands. For instance, spread out before Rome’s mighty Basilica of St. Peter is its superb piazza, surrounded by Bernini’s elliptical colonnades. For the much celebrated Cathedral of Chartres, in France, with its breathtaking collection of priceless stained glass windows, it is its rural surrounds from which it rises in stark solitude flanked by hectares of wheat fields through which pilgrims have long approached it.

Until the 1950’s, St. Patrick's, our much loved and highly regarded example of Gothic revival, dominated Melbourne's skyline. However, since then its position of eminence has been crowded out by a proliferation of skyscrapers, and consequently has lost its position of eminence in recent decades.

During the year of the Great Jubilee that has just concluded, this Cathedral, that was accorded the title "Minor Basilica" following the international Eucharistic Congress in this city in 1973, has acquired new surrounds that will surely become a setting of international renown. However, St. Patrick’s Pilgrim Path, as it is formally known, is not merely an architectural masterpiece. Much more than that it has the capacity of evoking a genuine spiritual response by an individual believer or a group of pilgrims, who choose to use this Southern approach to the Mother Church of the Archdiocese of Melbourne.

Conceived by our own Archbishop George Pell, in the light of his travels in Europe, it provides the visitor with a clear-cut perspective, created by Green and Dale Landscape Architects. Its central concept is that of flowing water, the Scriptures’ multifaceted depiction of God’s abundant life in us. The water cascades down the channel that divides the two sides of the stepped pathways that progresses up the incline. The visitor is challenged by the salutary selection of quotations cut with gold inlays into a number of blue stone structures that are continually cleansed by additional out pouring of invigorating water.

The first of these inscriptions to be encountered is a cry from the heart of one of Australia's great poets, James McAuley. This is its provocative message that challenges the seeker at the outset.

    "Incarnate Word,
    in whom all nature lives,
    Cast flame upon the earth:
    raise up contemplatives
    Among us, men who
    walk within the fire
    of ceaseless prayer
    impetuous desire.
    Set pools of silence
    In this thirsty land"

    James McAuley 1917 - 1976
    © Copyright Norma McAuley

Two pointed further messages punctuate the pilgrim’s progress towards to the top. The first is from the pen of "the Disciple whom Jesus loved", who quotes his Divine Master:

    Anyone who drinks the water
    that I shall give will never be thirsty again.

    Gospel of John 4.14
    1st Century AD

The second is derived from the much cherished Psalm 23:

    The Lord leads me by quiet
    waters to revive my
    drooping spirit.

    Psalms of David 23 (22): 2-3
    10th Century BC

The relevance of both these inspired passages needs no embellishment from me; they just challenge the person participating to relate them to life's situations.

Surmounting the summit is a giant bronze bowl that is the origin of the water supply, and from it contains a submerged image of "The lamb". From it water cascades in three directions onto the seven stepped structure below, reminiscent of the sacramental signs of Jesus' presence, that are abundantly available to us.

Around the bowl's rim are appropriately inscribed the Book of Apocalypse, which concludes the Bible:

    The angel showed me a river
    whose waters give life,
    it flows as clear as crystal
    from the throne of God and
    of the Lamb.


    Apocalypse 22:1
    1st Century AD

Encompassing the open area at the top of Saint Patrick's Pilgrim Path, where visitors may choose to regroup before making their final journey to the Cathedral's Great West Doors, there are two superbly crafted statues in bronze.

Sculptured by Louis Lauman, a Melbourne based artist, who spent some considerable time studying the characters and spirituality of these saints before starting his creative work, they stimulate the bystander to reflect on the contribution of these giants of the Faith.

The art critic for the Herald Sun described him as being "Known for his extraordinary talent in moulding textiles, Laumen's work shows the discipline of a classical sculptor combined with the creative inspiration of a contemporary artist".

These magnificent figures depict, with dramatic freshness, the patron saints of Italy, St Francis of Assisi (c 1181-1226) and St Catherine of Siena (1347 - 1380), identifying them with he sufferings of Jesus, he with the stigmata of Jesus' wounds, and she with the crown of thorns, penetrating the palms of her hands.

Blessed and dedicated by Archbishop Pell on 17th December, 2000 in the presence of the Governor of Victoria, Sir James Gobbo, and his wife, Lady Gobbo, they were unveiled by third generation Italian/Australian families - the first by the La Terra and D'Andrea families from St. Francis of Assisi's, Mill Park, and the second by the Di Mauro Family from St Catherine's, West Melton. This choice was appropriate since these statues commemorate the particular contribution to the life of the diocese and to our Australian culture by those whose origin is derived from Italy.

This entirely captivating pilgrim path, which is unique to St Patrick's, will obviously draw people to worship and will be much photographed by worshippers and tourists, who visit this site. That, however, is merely the human perspective. Just as the Cathedral's magnificent spires have reached heaven wards, since their completion in 1939 to commemorate the centenary of the first Mass offered in Melbourne, it is hoped that those who journey to this fine edifice will go away spiritually enriched by their experience of its pilgrim path and the prayerful atmosphere, too, of its majestic interior.

Some day, you might decide to take the opportunity to walk St Patrick's Pilgrim Path, too, beginning at the open area in front of the Cathedral Presbytery, and reflecting on that challenging McAuley message. Then taking plenty of time, and moving at your pace, you might care too proceed up the steps, stopping at the Biblical quotes I've mentioned, and possibly utilising, as well, the strategically placed seating provided for you to rest awhile in the light of what you have just read.

Having reached the top, you can then take your stand behind the Apocalypse bowl, and allow yourself to be supported by the presence of St Catherine and St Francis. You can then look back down the concourse of water to the point of which you stand and reflect on the years of your life with aspirations of thanksgiving, repentance and renewal of spirit. You can then make your way around to the Cathedral's main entrance, and enter its interior to kneel in Jesus' Eucharistic Presence, and to allow yourself to be warmed by his personal love for you. I'm sure you'll go away refreshed, as you slowly retrace your steps and return to the challenges and the people in your life that still await your refreshed presence.


                                                                      
Sir Edward "Weary" Dunlop Centenary Celebrations



As part of the celebrations marking the centenary of the birth of war hero "Weary" Dunlop near Benalla, a memorial service was held on Sunday 15th July at the statue by Louis Laumen in the Botanical Gardens.
      
Federal MP for Indi, Sophie Mirabella, speaks at the service

    Tom Uren, who held "Weary" Dunlop in high regard, speaks at the Centenary Celebrations to mark "Weary" Dunlop's birth
Sophie Mirabella, Federal Member for Indi, reads a tribute from Prime Minister John Howard to mark the occasion.     Tom Uren, former Minister in the Whitlam Government, was a POW in Burma.  His recollections demonstrated his deep admiration for "Weary".
       
Tony Charlton, MC for the service     Crowd at the service for Weary Dunlop in Benalla
Tony Charlton, MC for the service, asks Benalla's John Roe about his experiences as a POW with "Weary".     Hundreds gathered at the famous Sir Edward "Weary" Dunlop statue to celebrate the life of the great man.
       






News, Analysis and Comment
A unique prize


by Simon H Warrender
Arts Hub
Monday, January 31, 2005

Inspired by the Peter Pan sculpture in Hyde Park London, which has become a well known site of heritage and cultural significance, the Melbourne Prize Trust and annual Melbourne Prize (established in 2004), has its origin in what is now a similar precinct and landmark in Melbourne, established in 2000.

In 1998 I was selected to join Committee for Melbourne’s young leaders program -the Future Focus Group. Committee for Melbourne is a not-for-profit think tank, incorporated in 1986 to foster Melbourne’s growth and development.

The Future Focus Group is a two-year program, during which participants can conceive and develop a project of their choice that benefits CBD Melbourne.

And the project I conceived was to establish a children’s garden built around an Australian literary icon. This was based on my interest in bringing to life a precinct for the enjoyment of children, their families and visitors to Melbourne, and one that would provide a link to Australia’s cultural heritage to educate and enrich public life in the city.

Norman Lindsay’s timeless Australian literary classic, The Magic Pudding was chosen to create a unique theme for the children’s garden. Two enthusiastic Future Focus Group members Lee Chin Ng and Megan McCracken joined the project and we embarked on what was to become nearly a two-year project, over and above our daytime jobs.

Of the identified sites for the project, the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne (RBG) was chosen as the ideal locale for a children’s garden and centrepiece sculpture. After circulating a detailed concept report and sponsorship proposal, we were fortunate to secure the support of Lyndsey Cattermole AM, Managing Director of Aspect Computing, whose fiscal generosity made it possible for the project to proceed.

To be able to reproduce The Magic Pudding characters as a sculpture, we applied for and received unprecedented permission under copyright from the Norman Lindsay family to proceed with the idea. And so with Aspect Computing's support, the sculpture, to be created by renowned Melbourne sculptor Louis Laumen, could be commissioned.

After nearly two years work and an exciting time watching the sculpture come to life at Louis’s studio, before moving to the Victorian College of the Arts sculpture department, the finished work was finally unveiled on behalf of the 'Children of Victoria' at a garden party at the RGB in November 2000. Given the significance of the project, an Advisory Group was formed consisting of the RBG, City of Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, Committee for Melbourne and Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), who cast The Magic Pudding sculpture.

Opened in 2004, the Ian Potter Children’s Garden has created a magnificent and unique precinct, with The Magic Pudding sculpture as a centrepiece.

In 2001, with further permission from the Lindsay Family to produce 75 limited edition bronze miniatures by Louis Laumen, I was able to continue the project and pursue my goal of setting in place a prize to assist artists develop their talent and show case the creative capability of the city, locally and internationally. The miniatures are on sale via the Melbourne Prize Trust.

I wanted to set in place a program that would offer innovative, valuable and practical awards for potential entrants and position it as ‘the prize of the city, for the city and for its public’. Exhibiting short-listed work in a popular CBD site was a priority.

With this in mind, the Melbourne Prize Trust was founded, and will run the annual Melbourne Prize. The inaugural Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture 2005 was announced, with additional prizes proposed for 2006 and 2007, with the urban sculpture prize offered in 2008 and every three years. In arriving at the focus of the 2005 Melbourne Prize, I have always considered that the incorporation of significant sculpture and artform into the urban landscape is a way to evidence a community’s cultural heart and provide visual beauty and interest for the urban community.

The Trust has defined Urban Sculpture as follows: Urban Sculpture draws a link between the built environment, art and the various publics that compose the urban landscape. By engaging with the social fabric and the past, present or future of the urban environment, it contributes to an understanding, involvement and sense of place in urban culture.

Including Committee for Melbourne and its member organisation and supporting organisations, foundations and individuals, we have received invaluable support.

I was then introduced to a talented young designer called Dion Hall, who made recommendations on several design houses to undertake developing the visual identity for the proposed Trust and Prize. Cornwell Design, Australia’s leading design house and a major sponsor, took the opportunity and has developed and implemented our unique visual identity. All the companies involved in developing the Melbourne Prize Trust and annual Melbourne Prize, many of whom were involved in the original RBG project, have given their services to set in place a solid foundation. It was a privilege to work with so many professional organisations and highly capable individuals for a common aim to launch this project.

In years to come, people will be asking, “Who won the annual Melbourne Prize this year?”













Sculptures find new street cred 


Jananuary 7, 2006

After having a very troubled relationship with Vault (aka The Yellow Peril), Melbourne is embracing public art with new funding and great enthusiasm, writes Louise Bellamy.

IT'S 25 YEARS SINCE THE most controversial piece of public art in Australia, Ron Robertson-Swann's Vault, was banished from the City Square for being too yellow and obscure.

Public art in Melbourne died for a decade after that, but now it's booming like never before - at Docklands, the CBD, freeways, shopping precincts, sports stadiums and outer suburbs - and continuing to knead the debate: what is it about and who is it for?

Ken Scarlett, author of Australian Sculptors, in 1980 indexed 450 practitioners; he now estimates there are more than 2000 at work, artists who are increasingly leaving the inner sanctum of the gallery space to show their work and are vying for private and public commissions for the farrago of projects on offer.

Only last month, the latest of 22 works at Docklands, Blowhole, a 15-metre-high, wind-powered sculpture by Sydney artist Duncan Stemier, which cost $700,000 and took four years to complete, was unveiled.

With Docklands' developers operating with a mandatory requirement of committing 1 per cent of their budget to public art, $12 million has already been devoted to the urban art program there, a figure expected to reach $30 million.

Bronwen Coleman, director of urban art at VicUrban, which manages Docklands, has an unprecedented budget, courtesy of the scale of the multibillion-dollar waterways development, and has engaged some established Australian artists "to make public space a stimulating and cultural experience".

Some artists don't like working on commissions, which usually come with rigid briefs, and others think the 10 per cent slice of the total budget isn't worth the trouble, but others, such as Bruce Armstrong, who continues to exhibit, embrace the challenge.

Armstrong's 25-metre-high Eagle in Wurundjeri Way was the first of the public artworks installed at Docklands in 2002 and it's now a Melbourne icon. He is quick to point out that Eagle is "my bird and not committee driven".

He'd actually made a marquette of the bird in his Richmond studio for a show before being invited to tender for the commission. By chance, he discovered the wedge-tailed eagle is an important totem for Aborigines in Victoria, and the commission - which took two years and cost $800,000 - went his way.

It's sculptor Louis Laumen's unique ability to render classical sculpture that won him one of the largest projects commissioned in Australia, the Tattersall's $1 million Parade of Champions, and continues to make him much sought after. But it's also the reason why Laumen, whose ninth sculpture of W. H. (Bill) Ponsford was unveiled at the MCG in December, has limited artistic freedom.

Working on the Tattersall's commission for three years and with one sculpture, of cricketer Dennis Lillee, left to go, Laumen says his brief "has been very specific with only some artistic licence and freedom of interpretation".

It's the bureaucratic intervention with ideas and methods of production by those commissioning public art that the recipient of this year's $100,000 McClelland Sculpture Prize, Lisa Roet, takes issue with. "Public artists are being treated like designers, not artists," says Roet, who also won the 2003 National Sculpture Prize.

"Public art should have an individual and clear artistic vision in character with the artist's art practice. It should neither be decoration nor an accessory for a piece of architecture, but intelligently combine the environment where it is to be placed."

Ron Robertson-Swann, who exhibits at Charles Nodrum Gallery in Melbourne and Michael Carr Gallery in Sydney, says it is important "to distinguish between public art and art in a public place".

"I was trying to make an important site-specific work of art for which I was persecuted by a public which believed it had the right to make a claim on it."

He still bears the scars of the fiasco of Vault, dubbed The Yellow Peril, which became a makeshift shelter for the homeless when moved to Batman Park until its recent installation at ACCA, Southbank. "Melbourne is still terrified to touch me for fear of another scandal. I haven't had another commission there since," he says.

But while he suffered, Melbourne gained, he says, "because it was the heated dialogue surrounding its aesthetics that was Melbourne's education. All the arguments for and against it, which went on for more than a year, has ultimately made Melbourne more confident about what it likes."

The deputy Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Gary Singer, who holds the arts and culture portfolio that this year will see a total of $400,000 committed to public art, is effusive about the city's CBD program.

He refers to Pam Irving's bronze dog, Larry Latrobe, in City Square, "which is loved because people love animals"; Alison Weaver's and Paul Quinn's Three Businessmen Who Brought Their Own Lunch: Batman, Swanston and Hoddle in Swanston Street, "which is simple and you have to have a mix"; and Simon Perry's Public Purse in Bourke Street Mall, "which has a common denominator".

More recent projects are aimed "at creating something for the future, the next 200 years", Singer says. They include the soon-to-be completed The Travellers, a $3 million State Government-funded installation managed by the MCC, for Sandridge Bridge, which reflects the story of Victorian migration through a dozen 7.5-metre-high stainless steel figures that move across the bridge in a timed sequence.

The Travellers, plus the $1 million joint government and MCC venture Common Ground, which includes a pathway, campsite and performance space acknowledging Aboriginal history at Birrarung Marr, will be completed in time for the Commonwealth Games, and also Deborah Halpern's Angel, formerly in the moat outside the National Gallery of Victoria, is to be relocated to Birrarung Marr.

As with the Docklands, the MCC is required to commit 1 per cent of its capital works program to art. Carol Atwell, from Brecknock Consulting, a public art consultant, was instrumental in writing the MCC's public art policy in 1992, and says the proliferation of public art is the result of many factors starting with weekend trading in the mid-1990s.

She lists architectural milestones such as Federation Square, ACCA, Melbourne Museum, buildings by architect Nonda Katsalidis, designs by architects Ashton Raggatt McDougall, and the Southern Cross (Spencer Street) Station wave roof, by Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners, as contributing "to the public's awareness and pride in the city".

There is also increasing crossover between art and architecture. The award-winning House in the Sky, at the interchange between the West Gate Freeway, Western Ring Road and Princes Freeway, was designed as part of a three-year public arts program in Melbourne's western region and won the Urban Design Architecture Award from the Royal Australian Institute of Architects in 2002 .

It was designed by Brearley Middleton Architects. Sydney-based artist Robert Owen collaborated with architects Denton Corker Marshall on Webb Bridge at Docklands; and Melbourne artist Alexander Knox created the structures to produce wave-like movements over NewQuay's Nolan Building.

Author Ken Scarlett says "one of the challenges in this time of globalisation is not to lose sight of our Australian character. Artists must continue to forge our national identity, like Deborah Halpern, who embraces Australian larrikinism."

He warns a problem with Melbourne's proliferation of public art "is that public works of art that are liked and popular can trivialise the art form, like The Three Businessmen Who Brought Their Own Lunch, which is low-grade caricature which makes fun of what's supposed to represent three of our forefathers".

Scarlett refers to Petrus Spronk's 1992 basalt sculpture Architectural Fragment outside the State Library as ideal because it relates to the building as well as being a meaningful sculptural entity".

The head of public art at RMIT, Geoff Hogg, stresses that public art "should be seen as a diverse set of practices coming out of sometimes contradictory environments which reflect and interpret a range of emerging Australian identities".

He cites the municipality of Hume, where Afghan/Australian artist Aslam Akram has designed a calligraphically based set of works for the Dallas Shopping Centre in Broadmeadows, and where artist Robert Owen has contributed to the design of the Craigieburn bypass.

Public art in Frankston is gaining ground also. Last year, in a $230,000 two-year joint project with the State Government, artist Louise Lavarack's Sight Line was unveiled at the Frankston pier, a progression of 22 painted, galvanised 4.5-metre-high steel poles containing light strips and topped with wind vanes.

In St Kilda's O'Donnell Gardens local Aborigines sit and chat on the bronze milks crates designed by local artist Julie Shiels, who won this year's contribution to urban art for the City of Port Phillip Design Development Awards.

In 1980, when Robertson-Swann challenged the public with Vault, he lost. Now the wealth of public art in Melbourne has raised standards for artists and the public alike, and finally he can flirt with a dream - to achieve a Docklds commission for a Vault look-alike. "Why not?" asks the artist, who calls himself "the least commissioned artist in the nation".