Friday, March 23, 2007

The Banker

The Banker is a 15-metre high aluminum mural signifying the role of banking in supporting industry. It was installed on the Post Office Square facade of the Westpac Bank at 260 Queen Street in 1970, and still is a striking monument today. Leonard Shillam began the work in 1969 with the medium used being painted plaster and wire. On the same wall inside the building there is a smaller Shillam sculpture signifying the city and communications.

Leonard (Len) George Shillam was born in Brisbane on 15 August 1915. Together with his wife Kathleen, their dedication to art was total. They helped establish the Queensland Society of Sculptors, and undertook teachings and educational seminars on art on numerous occasions. Len undertook many public commissions between 1949 and into the early 1990s, and must be seen as one of Queensland’s most experienced public artists. Len died on 1 September 2005, and Dorothy Hartnett wrote a fitting tribute to her friend in one of the local papers. The State Library of Queensland also has an excellent collection on their works entitled The Len and Kath Shillam Papers.

Little did I realise the significance of Len and his wife when I first came upon this sculpture. I think its best for the artist to speak for himself when describing his work:

To me sculpture has always been a kind of parallel creation, which reflects, but does not copy or reproduce, the creations we see in the natural world around us. It does not detract in any way from the wonder of the world we live in, but adds something to it which emanates from the artist himself, or herself.

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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