March means Art Month in the creative hub that is the Inner West so this issue we take a look at a few public art installations that dot the streets of our suburbs. Some you may love, others your may hate, not know the significance of, or have passed by a hundred times and not even noticed…
This seven-metre bronze sculpture, which takes up most of Stevenson’s Reserve on the corner of Fairlight Street, Five Dock, was unveiled in 2008. Built by Antonio Masini, the statue was a gift from the City of Canada Bay’s sister city, San Fele in Italy, and recognises the contributions Italian immigrants have made to the area throughout the years. ‘La Famiglia’ is Italian for family and the sculpture depicts a small child being playfully thrown in the air by his parents. It’s one of the Inner West’s more traditional statues, and serves as a nice welcome to Five Dock.
Newtown Art Seat
Marrickville Council installed the Art Seat in Newtown Square and invited local artists to submit their works to put on display in the illuminated tower. Some of the works have been hit and miss, depending on your artistic tastes, but the council changes things up every month or so and it keeps the streetscape interesting.
Explorers Park Dome
The dome that commands the corner of Parramatta Road and Liverpool Road, Ashfield, is one of the older installations in the Inner West, created for Australia’s Bicentennial celebrations in 1988. While it’s not necessarily a sculpture by definition, it’s an interesting artwork that shows a map of Australia alongside early explorers on camels and Aboriginal trackers. It stands on a corner once occupied by Dale’s Garage before becoming public space known as Explorers Park.
The Serpent artwork, erected along the Bay Run in Drummoyne last year, has become somewhat infamous in the local community; attracting more than a few local haters who say the sculpture looks like a “giant sperm.” In reality the artwork was actually inspired by the ‘rainbow serpent’ from Aboriginal history and a ‘winding road’ street sign. It was the first Aboriginal sculpture to be commissioned by Canada Bay’s council and was designed by former Drummoyne resident Jason Wing, an artist who strongly identifies with his Aboriginal and Asian heritage. The piece is meant to celebrate the indigenous heritage of the area, which once belonged to the Eora people.
The Guardian Dogs
It’s no secret that Inner Westies love their dogs so it’s no surprise that award-winning Marrickville artist Richard Byrnes decided to pay homage to man’s best friend by creating three dog statues, collectively known as the ‘Guardian Dogs,’ to watch over Newtown. They perch on poster columns at St Peters station, Newtown Square and on the corner of Enmore Road. Each dog has a quirky point of difference that reflects its surroundings; for example, the one in Newtown Square features a spoon in reference to King Street’s many restaurants.