Gift of sculptures adds new dimension to campus

Published 03 April 2008

Mrs WoodroughA generous gift has enabled the University of New England to mount the first two works of outdoor sculpture to adorn its campus.

The donor of the two sculptures, Mrs Susie Dunn, attended a special ceremony beside the sculptures earlier this week. During the ceremony, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alan Pettigrew, expressed his gratitude for the gift, placing it in the context of Mrs Dunn’s committed involvement in a number of regional communities – particularly in her support for Indigenous rights.

One of the sculptures, Mrs Woodrough from Walcha (1992), is mounted on the lawn between Lazenby Hall and the Pat O’Shane Building. The tall figure of a woman, carved from a single piece of wood, was affectionately named “Mrs Woodrough” by Mrs Dunn’s family. The sculptor, Stephen King, speaking at the ceremony, said it was a product of his “Eve period”. He thanked Mrs Dunn for her interest in his work – and the work of many other artists. Mr King is a leading figure in the remarkable sculpture movement that is transforming the town of Walcha.

The other sculpture, The Rainbow Serpent from Outer Space (late 1990s) by the local Indigenous sculptor Reuben Lockwood, is in the garden adjacent to the Oorala Aboriginal Centre. The carved wooden head and tail of the Rainbow Serpent are emerging from the earth, the head crowned with a crystal. “The Rainbow Serpent symbolizes the power of the earth,” Mrs Dunn said, while the Director of the Oorala Centre, Ms Diane Mumbler, in thanking Mrs Dunn, extended this symbolism to include the University’s empowering of Indigenous people through education.

Mrs Dunn thanked Professor Pettigrew for the University’s enthusiastic response to her gift in mounting the sculptures on such a “magnificent site”, and explained her wish to see them displayed in an outdoor setting, contributing to the “vigour and excitement” of  the University and the university town of Armidale. Both she and Professor Pettigrew hoped that the two sculptures would, in the future, be joined by others – adding a new artistic dimension to the campus.

THE PHOTOGRAPH of “Mrs Woodrough” displayed here expands to include the sculptor Stephen King (left), Mrs Dunn and Professor Pettigrew.