DEAN COLLS


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Rex Australis - The king is dead, long live the king

public art commission -  Southern Way Freeway, 14 m x 6 m x 5 m, corten steel, to be completed 2012 

This new public art work is part of a series of works exploring humanity’s place in the universe by contrasting the aesthetics of modern computer generated media and the vernacular of the 17th century Wunderkammer.


I remember long family car trips as a child, journeys that often covered thousands of kilometres and visited all corners of Australia. In those days there was a petrol company called Golden Fleece. I can still remember the child’s passport that would be stamped every time we stopped at a new Golden Fleece road house. The petrol company is gone now and the sheep-farming industry that its emblem proudly referenced is itself greatly diminished.

My current sculpture explores the concept of changing fortunes and the transience of existence. Australia’s fortunes no longer “ride on the sheep’s back” and are instead dependent on other revenue sources. Mining is the new king of the Australian economy. The chosen medium of rusty Corten steel evokes the great lumps of iron ore that we haul from the earth and ship to the world.

However, rust is also a potent image of decay and underlines the eventual mortality of all unsustainable ventures.

‘Rex Australis - The King is Dead, Long Live the King’ is a memorial to passing grandeur, the folly of hubris and a reminder of the hardships of the Australian outback.


I am drawn by the quiet beauty in the forms of bones. Whilst sometimes seen as symbols of death, they are the framework and architecture of a myriad of complex lifeforms and their powerful influence can be seen in the flesh of the living organism. The contrast between the fluted delicacy of the nasal cavity and orbits of the eyes, alongside the sinuous, almost brutal form of a merino ram’s horns is a dynamic that I have strived to capture in this piece.

‘Rex Australis - The King is dead, long live the King’ was commissioned for the Peninsula Link Freeway in 2011 and completed in December 2012.

The Peninsula Link Freeway opened in January 2013 and the work can be viewed at the Skye Rd exit, adjacent to the McClelland Sculpture Gallery and Park.

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