‘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 Freeway opened in January 2013 with Rex Australis as the inaugural sculpture for the Skye Rd exit site. On completion of its 4 year tenure in 2017, it was moved to the McClelland Sculpture Gallery and Park.
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. Australia’s fortunes no longer “ride on the sheep’s back” and are instead dependent on other revenue sources.
I am reminded of changing fortunes and the transience of existence; mining is the new king of the Australian economy.
The medium of rusty Corten steel evokes the great lumps of iron ore that Australia hauls from the earth and ships to the world but rust is also a potent image of decay and underlines the mortality of all things.
‘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.