223 x 46 x 9 cm
Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney
A commission from the artist through Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery circa 2003
‘When the ideas, the formal elements and the medium all work together a sculpture will 'sing' with a kind of rightness. It takes on a life, a presence, which is removed from this world. It belongs to a mythical other life, without a place in time.’ (Graeme Sturgeon, Contemporary Australian Sculpture, Craftsman House, Sydney 1991, p. 74)
The motif of a snakelike coil of copper with a loop began in 1991 with Curlicue, which Oliver described as being “like signing your name”. The forms are difficult to interpret, bearing resemblances to cursive script as much as serpents. But the titles of related works (Cascadeor Trace, for example) point to a more ephemeral source of inspiration like the flow of water.
This particular sculpture was commissioned through Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, the gallery that represented Oliver throughout her career. It has a sort of gravity-defying levity, giving the impression that, while made of metal, it is floating upon the wall. An exemplar of her unique metalwork practice, the sculpture is comprised of thousands of copper filaments that are welded together to construct the larger form. It has, though, an unusual and distinctive feature – the sharp corner underneath the initial loop, a rare angular flourish that contrasts beautifully with the fluidity of the work as a whole.
Image courtesy of the Estate of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney
When Bronwyn Oliver enrolled to study painting at Sydney's Alexander Mackie College in 1977, a computer error assigned her to the school's sculpture department instead. A fortuitous glitch indeed, since the young artist was not only instantly taken with three-dimensional media, but also went on to become one of Australia's most significant sculptors.
Oliver was an artist of unique vision, and had an extraordinarily focused commitment to her practice. When she died in 2006 at age 47 she left a legacy of nearly three decades of outstanding work, including both domestic sculptures and ambitiously-scaled commissions such as 'Vine' which spirals 16.5 meters from the ceiling of Sydney's Hilton Hotel.
After graduating from art school in Sydney, Oliver completed her Masters of Art at Chelsea School of Art in London in 1983. In 1993 she was selected for the inaugural Beijing Biennale, and in 1994 she was the recipient of the prestigious Moet & Chandon Fellowship. Her signature organic metal sculptures are now held in most major public collections in Australia as well as many important national and international private and corporate collections. A significant retrospective of her work was held at the McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery in 2005, and in 2006 Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery held the memorial exhibition 'Bronwyn Oliver 1959 - 2006'.
Oliver said of her art: "When the ideas, the formal elements and the medium all work together a sculpture will 'sing' with a kind of rightness. It takes on a life, a presence, which is removed from this world. It belongs to a mythical other life, without a place in time."