National Arboretum Canberra


Art at the Arboretum

A Backwards Attitude 2014
Armillary Sphere Sundial on Dairy Farmers Hill
'Breezing in Canberra' sculpture near Tuggeranong Parkway
Gate in Pod Playground
Hand rail on Dairy Farmers Hill
'In the Stream' sculpture in Forest 79
Lights in the entrance to the Village Centre
'Nest III' sculpture on Dairy Farmers Hill
Tree Ring in the Village Centre
Umbrellas in Discovery Garden
'Wide Brown Land' sculpture near the Himalayan cedar forest

A Backwards Attitude 2014

Backwards attitude sculpture

By Lois Pratt

Cold cast aluminium, steel and fibreglass

180cm H x 102cm W x 287cm D. 2 x life size.

A backwards attitude acknowledges a post-digital and Enlightenment age where information is everywhere and the correct course of action is clear, but an attitude of rejection thwarts it.

Through his work, Pratt emphasises that we are at a pivotal point in history in terms of technology and its effects on our lives, and we need to recognise the effect technology has on our lives. His work asserts that the entire world is available for digital consumption.

Social issues pervade Louis’ work, he sees his art as a mirror reflecting where we are socially and historically. Sometimes the tone is reproachful but mostly his art examines the contemporary world with a sense of its beauty.

Pratt’s uses a 3D scanner to convert everyday objects into digital forms. He then manipulates the scanned data with algorithms and other tools. The next stage is to rapid prototype (a type of 3D printing) the reconfigured digital forms back into tangible objects and shapes.

Louis Pratt’s works are recognised in numerous private and public collections. Most recently, Pratt was the winner of 2016 Tom Bass Figurative Sculpture award 2016 and the 2016 environmental award Sculpture on the Edge. In 2015 Pratt’s sculptures were represented in every major sculpture award in Australia, including the Wynne and Sculpture By The Sea.

Armillary Sphere Sundial on Dairy Farmers Hill

Sundial on rockSundial at dusk

The Armillary Sphere Sundial on Dairy Farmers Hill was presented to Canberra on behalf of the people of Queanbeyan to celebrate Canberra's Centenary and Queanbeyan's 175th birthday.

It is a tangible reminder of the unique bond between Canberra and Queanbeyan and was unveiled by Katy Gallagher MLA, Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory and Cr Tim Overall, Mayor Queanbeyan City Council on the 27th September 2013.

Made by Hendrik Forster, the sundial is made from patinated brass and stainless steel.

How to read the sundial

Running through the centre of the sphere sits a rod (gnomon), perpendicular to the sun's position on the equinox, and its shadow on the numbered scale inside the sphere indicates Local Solar Time (Local Apparent Time).

Local Solar Time differs from Eastern Standard Time by two factors: the longitude and the Equation of Time, and a third during Eastern Summer Time.

'Breezing in Canberra' sculpture near Tuggeranong Parkway

Breezing sculptureBreezing-in-CBR

'Breezing in Canberra' sculpture, by Kozo Nishino, resembles a bird moving in the air and stands seven metres tall, close to Tuggeranong Parkway. The two Nishino sculptures, 'Breezing in Canberra' and 'In the Stream', are designed to be seen together, reflecting and complementing each other.

Made of titanium, stainless steel and iron, 'Breezing in Canberra' possesses a surprisingly intricate and skeletal steel wire structure, and moves smoothly, reacting to natural movements of the air as if it were a living thing. Kozo Nishino explains:

"I want to create something that evokes air and wind. I would like my sculptures to exist as expressions of the lives we humans live cradled by this atmosphere." More of the artist's statement.

The artist, Mr Kozo Nishino, is a leading figure in large-scale metal sculpture who has received international acclaim for his public art pieces. More about Kozo Nishino.

Breezing in Canberra' was commissioned by artsACT.

Gate in Pod Playground

Pod gatePod playground

The steel gate in Pod Playground was designed by Simone Bliss from TCL Landscape Architects, who designed the playground. It shows delightful interpretations of many different types of Australian animals and plants, including wombats, emus, kangaroos, kookaburras, echidnas, lady beetles, platypi, bilbies, possums and the extinct Tasmanian tiger (Thylacine). Manufactured by HDM Metal Pty Ltd.

Hand rail on Dairy Farmers Hill

Handrail with viewHandrail closeSun on the rail

The curved stainless steel handrail on Dairy Farmers Hill illustrates the 100 leaves representing the 100 forests eventually to be found within the Arboretum (94 forests have been planted to date). Each of the leaves were hand-drawn and then etched into the stainless steel handrail.

The handrail was designed by David Lancashire Designs, and inspired by the brief to "create a memorable jewellery-like piece which encapsulates the National Arboretum Canberra project."

The detail and definition of each leaf and the play of light across the surface of the etching provides shimmering images, further enhanced by the changing seasons.

'In the Stream' sculpture in Forest 79

In the StreamSculpture in workshop

'In the Stream' sculpture, by Kozo Nishino, is an abstract design and stands 12 metres tall, set back from Tuggeranong Parkway within the forests. The two Nishino sculptures, 'In the Stream' and 'Breezing in Canberra' are designed to be seen together, reflecting and complementing each other.

Made of titanium, stainless steel and iron, 'In the Stream' possesses a surprisingly intricate and skeletal steel wire structure, and moves smoothly, reacting to natural movements of the air as if it were a living thing. Kozo Nishino explains:

"I want to create something that evokes air and wind. I would like my sculptures to exist as expressions of the lives we humans live cradled by this atmosphere." More of the artist's statement.

The artist, Mr Kozo Nishino, is a leading figure in large-scale metal sculpture who has received international acclaim for his public art pieces. More about Kozo Nishino.

'In the Stream' was commissioned by artsACT.

Lights in the entrance to the Village Centre

Glass panels at nightGinkgo close up purpleGlass panelGinkgo close up

The etched glass panels in the stone gabion walls lining the entrance to the Village Centre tell the story of plant evolution and the formation of coal seams. They include fossil imagery and information about each of the species that have been planted at the Arboretum, including Ginkgo leaves. One of the works references a 100-million year-old bee fossil found in Burmese Amber.

Designed by David Lancashire Designs, the panels use photographic imagery and ceraphic screenprints on the face of the glass. Spectacular lighting makes the display come to life.

'Nest III' sculpture on Dairy Farmers Hill

Nest by Michelle TaylorDaytime NestWinter dawn NestNest at night

A striking metal sculpture of an Australian wedge tail eagle on its nest, Nest III is made from welded steel found-objects, mostly abandoned farm machinery. The sculpture was created by Richard Moffatt in 2007 and sits at the top of Dairy Farmers Hill.

Tree Ring in the Village Centre

Children at tree ringTree Rings

One of the first things you see as you enter the Village Centre is the magnificent Tree Ring floor feature, created from reclaimed Australian timbers.

A beautiful artwork crafted by highly-skilled wood artists; all the timbers used in the tree ring are native hardwoods, except Cypress pine (Callitris species), which is a native softwood.

The Tree Ring represents the average grown trunk diameter of every tree planted in the National Arboretum, so a visitor walking across the tree ring experiences a sense of the scale of the trees once fully grown.

The giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) with a mature trunk width of six metres forms the outer ring of the design with smaller tree cross-sections nested within it.

As many forests in the Arboretum are endangered species, their timbers have been represented in the Tree Ring by reclaimed Australian hardwoods.

The Tree Ring was designed by Thylacine and crafted by Mick Raynes. The inner ring section, approximately 1.6 m in diameter, was crafted by members of the Albury-Wodonga Woodcrafters.

Umbrellas in Discovery Garden

UmbrellasShadows from umbrellaUmbrella cut outsUmbrellas from above

Designed by David Lancashire Designs, these large 3m diameter steel umbrellas were water jet-cut with images that reflect the variety of forms, shapes, colours, smells and textures in the educational Discovery Garden.

As the sun moves through the sky, so the shadows cast from the water-cut umbrellas move across the garden beds, adding to the experience for visitors as they walk through, enjoy and learn from the garden.

'Wide Brown Land' sculpture near the Himalayan cedar forest

Wide Brown LandMichelle Taylor photoFamily picnicWBL in snow

The three words in the 'wide brown land' sculpture come from the famous poem 'My Country', written by poet Dorothea Mackellar when she was 22 years old, living in England and terribly homesick for Australia.

First published in London in 1908, 'My Country' quickly became one of Australia's most loved poems, a status it still holds more than a century later.

In 2017, Mackellar became the first female writer honoured on UNESCO's Australian Memory of the World Register when UNESCO included the manuscript of 'My Country' in the Register of Australian Literature. The manuscript of My Country is on public display at the State Library of NSW.

The sculpture's form and style were inspired by Mackellar's handwriting. 'Wide brown land' is 35 metres long and 3 metres high, made from corten steel and steel rod by Marcus Tatton, Futago Design Studios and Chris Viney in 2010.

Many Australians are familiar with the second verse of the poem which includes the well known phrase "The wide brown land for me!"

"The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes.
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins,
Strong love of grey-blue distance
Brown streams and soft dim skies
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!"

Mackellar was born in Sydney's Point Piper in 1885 and died in Sydney in 1968. To learn more about Dorothea Mackellar and her poetry, visit the website.

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