If you live bayside inner city Melbourne, you’re familiar with Bruce Armstrong’s “Eagle” towering towards The Docklands. I smile up at it as I regularly bypass the city via Wurundjeri Way – it’s my favourite public sculpture.
With a sense of wonderment – or wondering – I visited the new Bruce Armstrong exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, “An Anthology of Strange Creatures.” Wondering how many, how big and how will they fit into the gallery space? It’s appropriate then, that the two gargantuous Guardians sit face-to-face as you enter the NGV Australia (made from red gum and weighing 5.2 and 4.8 tonnes, as I was to learn).
The occasion was an exhibition introductory talk by David Hurlston, NGV Senior Curator of Australian Art. David told us that he and Bruce studied at University together, Bruce initially with a view to becoming a painter. They had inspirational lecturers who guided their artistic direction, including the brilliant Inge King (http://www.pamelareid.biz/inge-king-the-star-in-her-constellation) who passed away at 100 years of age, earlier this year.
Above: The Guardians; Sarcophagos; David Hurlston; That’s What You Think (Knuckles)
I recall my secondary school Art Teacher telling me, “A good sculpture is one you want to walk around, it looks good from all angles, and you’ll want to touch it.”
Well, I want to HUG Bruce’s creatures: the volume, smooth textures and body-language. They’re endearing in so many ways. Maybe its organic – they’re made from trees!
Above: Crocodile; Tyger; Bear and Bull; Obelisk; Noir Bird Man 2
And then, there are works Bruce sculpts and paints – whimsical portraits as his creatures observe self-images. There’s also a self-portrait with an eagle (Impasse in foreground)
Another wonderful exhibition at the NGV Australia. It’s on until end January 2017. http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/exhibition/bruce-armstrong
Above: Bête Noire
“This piece is a casting in bronze from the original wood sculpture. I cast it because the work was very meaningful to me but had been sold. I felt that I needed the image to stay close to me. It is intended as a kind of yin-yang, black-white reconciliation of opposites in the human spirit.” Bruce Armstrong.
© Text and photos: Pamela Reid/ tPRo. Bruce Armstrong exhibition “An Anthology of Strange Creatures.” /NGV Australia