Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tympanum of the Pediment

The Brisbane City Hall faces King George Square. Bounded by the square, Ann Street and Adelaide Street, the building is one of the most significant buildings in Brisbane. One of the most famous sculptures in Brisbane, Progress of civilisation in the state of Queensland or Tympanum of the Pediment, is above the main entrance to City Hall.

Created by Sculptor Daphne Mayo, the sculpture was carved in Helidon Freestone (sandstone) over three years. Its unveiling on 17 December 1930, completed the construction of City Hall. The components are symbolic of the settlement of the State by the early pioneers. The central figure is the State protecting the citizens. The figures to the left hand side represent the native life (man and beast) dying out before the approach of the white man. The figures to the right hand side represent the early explorers discovering the possibilities of the new land and its industries. The overall length is 54 feet.

At night, they light up the main face of City Hall, with the tympanum being highlighted by a set of spotlights. This adds another dimension to an already impressive feature. The sculpture has had some controversy over the years, due to the apparent depiction of Aboriginal Australians. I don't believe that was the intent of Mayo back in the 1930's, as she undertook the artwork as a commission for the city council of the time, working to their themes. Aside from this, the sculpture is quite magnificent, and a fantastic representation of another master craftswoman at work.

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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