Saturday 30 July 2011 – Another sculpture walk on the ANU campus

This time, in the hope of not missing anything, I summarised locations from the ANU Sculpture brochure and printed out a map of the area we hoped to cover.

Sculpture on Acton Campus, ANU - map of this walk

We left the car in a parking station near Melville Hall and started at number 35 on the map, the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (photo below, with obligatory Black Mountain Tower and gratuitous con trail). Despite going all the way round the building, we couldn’t find the advertised sculpture. I suspect it was hiding in a closed-in courtyard.

Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies & Pauline Griffin Building

The Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies is, in my opinion, the only place in Canberra (and possibly in Australia) with an excuse for growing palm trees. I was gratified recently to learn that my ex-sister-in-law Lindy shares my dislike of palm trees. They should be restricted to their native territory! My daughter-in-law Chloe has consequently decided to plant an avenue of palm trees, to be named Vallindy or possibly Lindival Avenue, when she and Helen get to their land in Tasmania. Grrr!

Roaming towards number 36, Kulla’s Ripple by Tim Spellman, we passed the Pauline Griffin Building, known to me as the old Union. I took a photo of it (above) for the sake of all my good memories of SCUNA rehearsals with Chris Burrell (including this unauditioned choir performing at first sight Palestrina’s Sicut Cervus, amazing ourselves into silence) and to show the very balcony (upstairs) from which Beethoven, Hartley’s vast red kite, slipped its moorings and had to be pursued up Black Mountain.

Kulla, apparently, was the ancient Babylonian brick god.

Brick sculpture near the Chifley Library

I was surprised to learn that Babylon featured bricks, and Dac was disturbed by the two parts of the sculpture, which he claimed wouldn’t fit together. Sometimes I find that not being gifted with numerate perceptions is a bit of an advantage. What disturbed me about the sculpture, which I liked a lot otherwise, was that I couldn’t find any toys in it, despite toys being mentioned among its constituents.

Next, we strayed across Chifley Meadow towards number 37, Levy by Paul Hopmeier. Who knew that the space out the front of the Chifley Library was a meadow, and so designated? Not me, though I’m very pleased to find out. Most of the other meadows that were in evidence on campus when I was an undergraduate have filled up with buildings!

Dac with 37: Levy by Paul Hopmeier

I had intended to stroll further out across Chifley Meadow and down through Fellows Oval in the direction of number 38, but Dac headed for number 50 in Union Court, so I trailed along, down the stairs and past the scarily-small disabled carpark near the Co-op Bookshop. I mentioned the possibility of calling in there on our way back, but it was not to be.

50: The spirit of enquiry by Deborah Halpern, Part 1

Union Court is the location of The spirit of enquiry by Deborah Halpern – bright tiles in various shapes and configurations that definitely cheer the place up.

Deborah Halpern is probably best known for Angel, her bicentennial sculpture at Birrarung Marr in Melbourne. Certainly Helen was very excited to hear mention of it, having liked it very much when she was living in Melbourne (and it was in its old home outside the Victorian National Gallery.)

50: The spirit of enquiry by Deborah Halpern, Part 2

From Union Court, we took a quick diversion past the Haydon Allen Tank to visit 51: Spout by Mark Grey-Smith. As I said about halfway through the first ANU sculpture walk, when I saw and enjoyed Withholding by Mark Grey-Smith, I wanted to see his other two works on campus.

To get to the fountain featuring Spout, we had to sidle past a crowd of people who were hanging about in the sun beside the Haydon Allen building. I think they were doing some sort of management training. Dac described them as “the weird Arts-Class we had to brush by as they practised ‘partnering off’ :rolleyes:”. For people who were meant to be learning something about interpersonal relations, they were certainly very reluctant to let us through, in both directions!

Various sculptures, described in the text

Spout had been vandalised with blue paint, I was sad to see. I found it reasonably spout-like, and had other thoughts which would doubtless say more about me than about the sculpture. What I tried to capture in the photo (top) was the copious moss growing beneath all the little water-spouts. In the red circle you can glimpse the obstructive Haydon Allen gang. We pressed on, through them, back through Union Court, and down to Sullivans Creek Road, where we encountered building and road work and barriers.

A bit of to-ing and fro-ing was necessary. We got a good look at 38: Chrysalis by Mary Kayser, which appears bottom left in the photo above. It was very dusty and cobwebbed, probably because of all the building uproar.

We searched for 39 and 40 but weren’t able to see them. Looking at the brochure, I find that 40 is in an internal courtyard of the Hancock Library, so we couldn’t have got to it out-of-hours. 39 turned out to be the façade of the Hancock Building, which I think we would have been able to see if we’d known where to look. Also if we hadn’t been distracted by the sight (and sound!) of a white owl being mobbed by two crows and a peewee. The owl appeared to have something in its beak – a mouse, I thought – and the other birds wanted it.

I would have liked to rescue the owl. I staggered futilely about but the birds were flying all over the place, finally heading off in the direction of North Road. A student went past on a bicycle and said “You saw the owl, did you?” so obviously it’s a known campus phenomenon.

Next, we tottered down University Avenue in search of 41 and 42. 41 is Life’s Shadows by Anne Ferguson, ten glass screen-printed panels on the facade of the Peter Baume Building. I’d like to see this one at night, as it appears in the brochure. Phoenix by Jan Brown appears at right-hand middle in the photo above, but not in the brochure. It’s about organ donation and its plaque reads:

In memory of the donors
Mortui vivos docent
Let the dead teach the living

In the red circle behind Phoenix, you can probably not see Dac leaning against the waterfall on Daley Road, reading his iPad, waiting for me to catch up. The waterfall fountain, which is new to me, had a notice (that I failed to photograph) about its use in water purification. I haven’t been able to find anything online about this. The water smelt funny, so purification would be all to the good!

Number 42 is Bert Flugelman’s Eggbeaters Untitled, mentioned about 2/3rds of the way through the Belconnen Town Centre walk, where we saw Tumbling Cubes. Passing Bruce Hall, where I lived as an undergraduate, always gives me pause. In my first year, 1968, I had a room in North Block overlooking the eggbeaters, and they were part of what kept me awake at night. Constant drunken, riotous parties in East Block and sprinklers timed to sputter into life at 2am also contributed.

We missed 43 (Marion Borgelt’s Pulse) in my eagerness to get to 44: Pursuit of scientific knowledge by Vincas Jomantas – a sculpture otherwise known as “the Physics fountain”.

Physics fountain 1968 - 1

Michael Harrington, Val Thomson, John Evans, Bev Hutchison, Jim Simmons and Wilma Chock Man in early 1968, from the camera of Rose Auchmuty

This photo and the one that follows were taken after a Sunday formal lunch at Bruce Hall (hence the gowns) early in 1968 (I know this because my hair hadn’t yet grown long)

Physics fountain 1968 - 2

Top to bottom, left to right: Bev Hutchison, Rose Auchmuty, Wilma Chock Man, John Evans, Michael Harrington, Val Thomson

In this one, I was going for the carefree leg-waving look, but Michael tickled my foot at the crucial moment. I should confess that the Physics fountain happened to be dry when these photos were taken.

I was determined to have another photo taken there, and here it is:

Physics fountain 2011

This time, I needed considerable help and encouragement from Dac to get up on the edge. 😦

On our way through to 45 and 46, we found a water experiment that pleased Dac greatly: a small movie (with the usual seasickness warnings) is over on Flickr. Meanwhile, I was quite pleased to find a loo open outside the Psych building. Some people are disparaging about the attention given to such matters in these postings. What can I say? This was a long walk on a cold (if bright) day. The most interesting aspect of this loo was the back of the door:

Seen in the Psych building

All these handbills are ads for psych experiments. Course credit or cash is offered to all manner of participants for all manner of tests. I’ve never seen anything like it before! There was no room whatsoever for graffiti.

45 was meant to be Argo, the third sculpture on campus by Mark Grey-Smith. Unfortunately all that remained was a plinth and a plaque. While I was checking my notes, a kind woman on a bicycle stopped to ask if we were lost. I told her I was lamenting the absence of the sculpture, which I feared had been vandalised. She said no, it was off being repaired, and mentioned that it was huge. We’ll have to go back!

Sculptures clockwise: 45, 46, 49, 48

Clockwise: Argo’s plinth, 46: Untitled 9/74 by Reginald Parker, 49: Fusion by Geoffrey Bartlett, and 48: Untitled by Lenton Parr

Somehow we managed to miss number 47, which was a little out of our way. Dac’s pedometer showed that we’d walked nearly 5 kilometres, so we lurched back to the car (do not pass Go, do not visit the Co-op Bookshop!) and went in search of a cuppa.

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8 Responses to Saturday 30 July 2011 – Another sculpture walk on the ANU campus

  1. Hi Val
    I’m not sure whether my last comment was posted? Any way, I forgot to say that Henry Griggs who passed on the link to your blog is brother to Peter Griggs wh is my sister’s husband.

    • valkyrie1 says:

      Wilma! Lovely to hear from you.

      This is the first comment I’ve seen from you, so please add the one that got away, if you can remember it!

      I’ve known Henry for about 20 years, through Dac, so it’s really strange and good to discover the connection. 🙂



      • Hi again Val
        I didn’t think the other message went through…. basically it expressed joyful surprise at finding you again via in-laws. I would love to catch up in person. Unfortunately Jim and I won’t be able to go to the 50th Anniversary Bruce Hall reunion, but I will be teaching workshops in Canberra 14-16 October, so perhaps that could be a possibility?

  2. valkyrie1 says:

    It’d be great to see you if you have any spare time during your stay. I’ll email you.

  3. Ruth Milller says:

    Val, we are trying to trace Beverly Hutchison for a 50 year school reunion in 2017. Do you have any idea of her whereabouts, or any leads we might pursue? Very grateful for any morsel of info. Ruth (who played in Ascham school orchestra with Beverly, and was in same year at school).

    • valkyrie1 says:

      Ruth, I’m sorry but I have no information about Bev – I’ve heard nothing of her since we left university in 1970-71. Another friend who was closer to her has also heard nothing. I confess that one reason I put full names on that photo was the possibility that Bev would happen across it and get in touch.

      Perhaps the ANU Alumni Office would be able to help you – – as they don’t have her listed among the lost alumni. (They do have a John D Hutchison, Bachelor of Arts 1973.)

      I am pretty sure you are the same Ruth Miller I last saw with red tap-shoes slung over her backpack, visiting a SCUNA group house on your way (sorta) to Nimbin in 1971…?

      All the best,

      Val T
      originally Thomson, then Brown, then Thomson again

      • Ruth Miller says:

        Hi Val,

        Thanks for your reply. Yes, I am indeed that Ruth Miller … still in Nimbin and still tap dancing, although the red shoes died, but only a few years ago.

        So, wow! I knew you from Intervarsity and SCUNA? Amazing how the internet is bringing old acquaintances back together. I am surprised you remembered me from all that time ago. I’ll always remember the 1971 Intervarsity Choral Festival in Canberra when I had to compete in the Presidents’ Pyjamas, culminating in a freezing dip in Lake Burley Griffin … NOT fun!

        I don’t remember passing through Canberra en route to Nimbin, but perhaps would have done so on the way back from performing in Melbourne and Mildura with the National Jug Band Orchestra (all the jug bands in Australia put together into one 55-piece orchestra). That was in April 1972, I think.

        Do you know what Bev studied at ANU, or what occupation she may have pursued post-uni? Perhaps that would give us a lead. It’s strange no-one has heard anything of her. I hope she sees your blog and gets in touch. We’d love to see her at our Ascham class of 1967 reunion.

        Best wishes,

      • valkyrie1 says:

        We knew each other through Intervarsity and SCUNA, and through the Kays and Helen Riley. You were at my wedding. Let’s see if a photo will jog your memory:

        5 December 1970, St Paul's Manuka

        I remember people (many more than remember me!) but I didn’t remember that you had to do the Presidents’ Pyjamas at the first Canberra IV. I think Julian stood in for the SCUNA president as well. There’s no list of the heroic survivors of Presidents’ Pyjamas through the ages, more’s the pity.

        I was overseas by 1972 so the Canberra visit I remember was before then. I think it was in November 1971, just before we left Australia. You were travelling with another girl but I don’t remember her.

        All I know about Bev is that she played the cello and lived at Bruce Hall. Arts? Pol Sci? I don’t think she was doing Asian Studies, as I was.

        I’ll send you a friend request on Facebook.

        All the best,


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