Ron Robertson-Swann

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia born 1941

  • Europe, England 1960
  • Greece, Near East 1961
  • England 1962-68

Australia [Homage to Tony Caro] 1969
Collection Title: Australia
Place made: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: sculptures, welded steel, synthetic polymer paint.

Dimensions: h 152.5 h x 152.5 w x 452.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1969
Accession No: NGA 69.99.A-D
  • Traditional art is mostly representational and, particularly with sculpture, predominantly figurative. Some of the properties concomitant with that tradition are that sculpture is monolithic, has an implied core, displaces space and stands on a pedestal. It is also carved in stone or wood or modelled and cast in bronze.

    My ambition with Australia was to reverse some of those properties. It encloses and shapes space, stands on the same level as the viewer and thus takes in the space surrounding it. The sculpture is predominantly horizontal, not vertical, and it is constructed in steel, a material with the tensile strength to be able to draw in space and have it hold. Colour is applied to neutralise unnecessary associations with the raw steel and to reinforce the unity and mood of the work. Geometry is employed to distinguish it in the landscape while at the same time embracing and framing the landscape.

    This sculpture was made in 1969, on my return to Australia after almost a decade in Europe, and is a response to the wonderful horizontal expansiveness of the Australian landscape, which could only be expressed through the development of these new means in sculpture.

    Ron Robertson-Swann 2002

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002