Sunday, August 7, 2011


Ethos [Tom Bass. 1961. Copper.]

Ethos stands outside the ACT Legislative Assembly, facing onto Civic Square. This sculpture was commissioned in 1959 and unveiled in 1961, the first work in an extensive program of public artworks by the National Capital Development Commission. The total cost of 7580 pounds was in part funded by the sale of miniatures of the sculpture, sold for 52 pounds 10 shillings each.

The four metre tall winged female figure wears a gown covered in human figures representing the community of Canberra. The sun she holds is a symbol of culture and enlightenment, and the hexagonal saucer she stands in represents the plan for Canberra and its nickname of 'Frosty Hollow'.

Near the base of the sculpture, a plaque is set into the paving stones with a poem written by the sculptor, Tom Bass, to mark the 90th anniversary of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in 2005:

Ethos Speaks

I am Ethos
and though I do not
speak with words
I speak to you
in other ways.

I say to you that
I am the spirit
of this place
and this people.

I am
the original spirit
and the spirit of now.

I rise from the Earth
and reach for the Sun.

I bring together
the old and new.

In me there is
no violence or war
only peace
and reconciliation

I am the love
peace and beauty
of this place.

I give you
these things
every day
and always.

Tom Bass was a very prominent sculptor in the 1950s and 60s, and examples of his work are found all over Australia. He died in February last year, aged 93.

1 comment:

Stefan Jansson said...

I wonder if it will still be there 50 years from now.