Saturday, July 23, 2011

From here to Eternity

Eternity [John Robinson. 1980. Polished bronze and painted steel]

Installed at the junction of London Circuit and Petrie Plaza in Civic, John Robinson's Eternity is said to "symbolize the sculptor’s faith in the future of mankind. It was cast in Italy and donated to the people of Canberra by an anonymous donor in 1981". The plaque gives away nothing of the interesting story behind the sculpture.

John Robinson was born in England in 1935, to an Australian father and an English mother. During World War II he was evacuated to Australia, and went to school at Melbourne Grammar. On his return to England, he went to Rugby School, where he excelled in sculpture and geometry - an early indication of where his path would lead. But before he became a known sculptor, John joined the Merchant Navy, but left when he arrived back in Australia. he worked jobs as a jackeroo and drover, and joined the mounted police in Western Australia.

He married in the 1950s, and he and Margie bought a block in South Australia where they established a sheep farm and where their three sons were born. In the 1960s, John started making models of friends and children, and in 1969 he sold the farm for enough money to support the family for two years and for them all to move to England so he could concentrate on his sculpture.

He began making non-figurative sculptures n 1975, and his interest in mathematics became apparent. He was made an Honorary Fellow of the University of Wales, and was involved with the Mathematics Department and the Centre for the Popularisation of Mathematics. You can read more of his story in his autobiography. John died in 2007 from lung cancer.

Eternity was based on 100 equilateral triangles, each with a hole in the centre, threaded onto a ring. The triangles were twisted and plastered to form, in effect, a Mobius Band. The process is illustrated in a series of three photos, and there's a mathematical explanation here. The sculpture was then cast in bronze.

Fascinating stuff from a fascinating man. It's a shame more people don't know the significance of the sculpture.

1 comment:

Gemma Wiseman said...

Love the story behind this intriguing sculpture! A fascinating post!