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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Statuary meme: woolly porn

Ok, I know Laura is busy writing her dissertation, but the meme must go on, 'cause there's lots of bad/cool/mystifying sculpture out there. This one falls into the latter category. Chocolate frog to anyone who can give me a better explanation of this public piece than the official explanation.

Now, I know this looks like it's set up in somewhere quite obscure, but this is Civic (the central hub of Canberra) on a Saturday morning. Ok, a wintermorning, but it is after shop opening hours, and it is also Harry Potter publication day. And there is still nobody around. Canberra is the only place where you can ride your bike through the inner city suburbs in the middle of the night very drunk, riding on the dotted white line in the middle of the road so you don't fall off, and encounter NOBODY. Not even a taxi.

But I digress.

as you walk through the centre of Civic, clutching the balloon you have just been given by someone in a bad Hagrid costume, and a paper bag containing the latest Harry Potter book, you will encounter these two sheep. One is lounging on a chair with his arse in the air, the other is staring bemusedly up the other's arse.


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Well, you can encounter them no matter what you're holding, really.
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This is the official explanation, found in the Civic Public Art Walking Tour PDF, downloadable from the internet:



LES KOSSATZ, 'AINSLIE'S SHEEP' 2001: CAST ALUMINUM ON CONCRETE PEDESTAL INTERSECTION OF PETRIE PLAZA AND CITY WALK ACT PUBLIC ART PROGRAM

The national capital has ironically been described as 'a good sheep paddock spoiled' and this sculpture is a satirical salute to one of Canberra's early pastoralists—James Ainslie. In 1825, Ainslie arrived with 700 sheep to establish Duntroon Station which originally encompassed Reid, Campbell, Mount Ainslie, Glebe Park, and the Royal Military College. Ainslie returned to Scotland in 1835, leaving a flock of 20,000. The embroidered waistcoat on the chair arm refers to Ainslie's flamboyant dress sense, and to an incident when his clothes were stolen by bushrangers. According to the story, Ainslie pursued and caught the bushrangers and retrieved his favourite waistcoat.


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I guess this is the waistcoat.

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Note the people walking in the background of this shot, clutching their harry Potters...



There is no plaque, no sign, nothing near this sculpture to explain any of this, and I must admit that after years of pondering about mulesing etc, I am deeply disappointed that there is such a boring explanation. I'm sure passers-by don't think it has any local historical relevance! Maybe it's better to be left mysterious, because I love watching parents struggling to explain it to their kids.

However... if anyone can make up a better story, bugger the chocolate frog, I'll make up a fake plaque and paste it to the ground nearby.

7 comments:

seldom said...

we like to think of it as some commemorative public gyneacological exam and that they used sheep because it's okay to show sheep in public with their legs spread but not women. (sorry, laaadies).

mel said...

The only explaination I have ever come up with is that it is a good photo-op for males at 3am after drinking way too much.

I have seen way to many drunk guys try and mount that sheep.

It's is rather disturbing! :)

Ampersand Duck said...

ha ha ha ha ha ha aaaahh... good old Canberra!

candi said...

we have pigs in our mall, you have sheep?!

harry said...

Surely it would be due to that proud Aussie phrase "Cold as a Canberra Sheep's clacker!" that I just made up.

harry said...

And then you can actually find out how cold that really is without all the running around you would have to do to do it 'naturally'.

Anonymous said...

Oh..I have seen tourist placing their hands on the rams balls, smiling and taking pictures..equally disturbing as the young drunk men of Canberra...lol