Saturday, October 20, 2007

Big Sister

Big Sister SculptureJust outside the Pig 'N' Whistle pub and Michael's Restaurant at 123 Eagle Street is a unique and fascinating sculpture. Entitled Big Sister, the work by J. Seward Johnson Jr depicts two very lifelike characters. The younger girls awaits as the big sister ties her shoe, in a childlike scene reminiscent of many a familiar family scene. The kneeling teenager wears a blue skirt and a white blouse. Both figures have hair pulled into ponytails and held in place with blue barrettes.

Big Sister SculptureClearly the piece is identified as the work of J. Seward Johnson Jr, a renowned American sculpture, and part of the Johnson & Johnson dynasty. After initially having a career as a painter he turned his talents to sculpture in 1968. Since then he has created over 250 lifelike and life-size cast bronze statues of people of all ages engaged in day-to-day activities. This technique, Trompe-l'œil, involves the artist providing extremely realistic imagery in order to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects really exist.

Big Sister Sculpture
What most fascinates me about this work is whether this is an original, or a copy. If it is the original as I believe, I have no clear path as to how it made it to Brisbane. It has been located, as far as I can identify at various times, in Las Vegas, NV, Hamilton, OH, Phoenix, AZ, and Geneva, IL - all in the U.S. The original work can be seen in its original placement and in more vivid colour on his Web Site under the Collections section, in the Children and Families - Children area. Regardless, it is still a fantastic piece, and no matter how it got here it is another fine example of worldly public artwork in our great city.

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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