18 October 2019

Braidwood retrospective exhibition of master artist Antony Symons

| Alex Rea
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Bronze Siren from Homer’s Odyssey by Antony Symons. Photo: Alex Rea

A major exhibition spanning the life’s work of artist Antony Symons (1942-2018), has opened at the Wheatfield Gallery outside Braidwood.

Symons is best remembered for his iconic bronze public sculptures such as the ‘Lithgow Flash’ honouring Olympian Marjorie Jackson unveiled in 2000. His creative output was expressed through a remarkable diversity of mediums and styles.

Born in Adelaide, Symons grew up in Sydney and in 1954, at the age of just 12, became apprenticed to the artist Desiderius Orban. Later is studied under Lyndon Dadswell and Robert Klippel, studying sculpture at East Sydney Technical College from 1979-1983.

After travelling widely in Greece and Italy he settled in Rydal, near Lithgow, but the influence of his travels remained evident in his work.

At Rydal, Symons established a bronze foundry along with the ‘Gaia International Friendship Sculpture Garden’ which was open to the public from 2001 until his passing in 2018.

Zenta Zebergs with Gallery Director Antony Davies with the Gaia bronze at the opening. Photo: Alex Rea

Symons spent years mastering his art. He respected past masters along with his interest in modern and contemporary work. Not only inspired by Greco-Roman traditions, later Symons was inspired by ancient Chinese art and philosophy.

His daughter, Zenta Zenbergs says “From his Studio, Foundry and Sculpture Garden, Antony practiced, shared and taught the art of the lost wax method of casting (also known as direct wax) along with other metal casting and multi-medium art techniques.”

Zebergs says “Antony was also known for his satirical wit and pictorial/written social comments, increasingly focused on his concern for the environment and the issues of climate change. “

“Most significantly, throughout his life, it was Antony’s relationship with the Australian landscape, the bush and Indigenous cultural wisdom to which he returned again and again, which found endless and varied expression through his sculptural works, paintings, watercolours, woodblocks and drawings” says Zebergs.

The complete collection of works from his Rydal Sculpture Garden have been relocated to Wheatfield Gallery for this exhibition, together with a selection of workshop and studio models, maquettes and artist’s studies spanning 60 years.

The exhibition features the largest body of his work ever shown and includes paintings in oil, watercolours, pastel works, etchings, woodcuts and monoprints, in addition to a spectacular group of sculpture in bronze and other materials – many of which were cast using the lost wax method in the artist’s own foundry.

A selection of works by Antony Symons. Photo

At the opening of the exhibition earlier this month, Pastor Ray Minniecon, co-founder of the Coloured Diggers Project, spoke about Symons’ sculpture project to recognise indigenous service.

The maquettes for his ‘Dancing the Land’ sculpture at the National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association at Kariong, near Gosford, are in the exhibition. The maquettes are being donated by the family to the Redfern Community Centre.

Bronzes, paintings, drawings and prints are in the exhibition of Antony Symons work

Close to 500 works are included in this inspiring exhibition of an artist’s life. The exhibition includes selected tools and working elements from the artist’s studio.

Works are affordably priced from under $100 to around $20,000.

‘Antony Symons – Retrospective of a life’s work’ is on at Wheatfield Gallery, Mill Pond Farm, 660 Majors Creek Road, Jembaicumbene via Braidwood.

The exhibition runs until December 15, the gallery is open Saturdays and Sundays 10 am to 4 pm, or by appointment.

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