Some are controversial, some are almost hidden unless you know where to find them, and others we tend to just walk past and not pay much attention to at all. These are just a few of the sculptures and stories of public art in Adelaide city.
All of these examples can be found in one spot on North Terrace, in front of the Intercontinental Hotel which stands next to the Adelaide Railway Station, and all have stories and meaning that you can find out about here:
In the lower forecourt area is a 3D sculptural mural that curves in an arc around a paved courtyard which also has fossil looking mounds in the pavement. This artwork was installed in 1995 and is called Yerrakartarta, derived from a Kaurna word, meaning ‘at random’ or ‘without design’. This refers to the randomness of the natural world.
The Kaurna people are the first people of the Adelaide Plains region of South Australia and this piece is a celebration of the cultural and spiritual connection to the country. It’s a collaboration between artist and project developer Darryl Pfitzner Milika and local Kaurna and Ngarrindjeri artist Muriel van der Byl. The hundreds of individually fired tiles were assembled by ceramic artists Jo Crawford and Jo Fraser and are an interpretation of van der Byl’s Kaurna ancestor’s stories.
A variety of aboriginal symbolism features in the sculptures and together the pieces represent the land’s history and the dreaming story of two Kaurna ancestors, Tjilbruke and Ngurunderi. A plaque with the sculpture reads, ‘This artwork is a tribute to the Kaurna people who are and have been part of this country since time immemorial, understanding and observing the immutable laws that bind all things’.
Another sculpture on the lower forecourt area is by Australian sculptor, Robert Klippel who is regarded as Australia’s leading sculptor. This piece which stands over 3 metres high and 3.5 metres wide reflects his many years in researching mechanical aspects of industrial equipment. It is made up of a series of bronze castings of discarded wooden patterns for machine parts, is called No 714 Wooden Prototype and was one of his last significant pieces before he died in 2001.
On the upper forecourt are five sculptures created by Japanese born sculptor Akio Makigawa, and named ‘Elements and Being’. It uses influence from nature, time, humanity and culture all being drawn together in a focal point. There are many symbolic elements to the artwork including the use of black Maquino marble and white Carrara marble which refer to day and night and they are set on bluestone which is a historical reference to the early building material used in Adelaide. The striped works refer to the strata patterns in the earth and each of the 5 elements represent points of the Southern Cross.
These sculptures were installed in 1988 and like many of his works, they encourage viewers to move through and around them and consider a more spiritual relationship to earth, water, air, fire and spirit.
More to contemplate and enjoy next time you visit Adelaide.