14 February 2024

Massive metal sculpture heads to Nowra

| Katrina Condie
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The sculpture, Broken obelisk, is on loan from the National Gallery of Australia for five years. Photo: Barnett Newman.

A “colossal” sculpture by internationally acclaimed American sculptor Barnett Newman will arrive at the Shoalhaven Regional Gallery this week.

Broken obelisk is on loan from the National Gallery of Australia and will remain on show at the gallery in Nowra for five years as part of the Australian Government’s Sharing the National Collection initiative.

The sculpture has been described as “colossal”, measuring more than seven metres high and weighing more than three tonnes. It is constructed from Cor-Ten steel, which was developed to eliminate the need for painting and forms a rust-like appearance after several years’ exposure to the weather.

The Broken obelisk sculpture heading to Nowra is one of four versions in existence. The others are located in major cities around the world including Houston, New York and Jerusalem. The work was dedicated to American civil rights leader Martin Luther King in the year of his death.

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National Gallery of Australia director Dr Nick Mitzevich, said he was thrilled to share this statement work by Barnett Newman with new audiences.

“The gift by The Barnett Newman Foundation of Broken obelisk to the National Gallery provided the national collection with one of the most distinctive examples of 20th century American art,” Dr Mitzevich said.

“I am very proud that this masterwork is one of the inaugural loans under the Sharing the National Collection initiative.”

The work will be unveiled on Friday 16 February by Federal Minister for the Arts Tony Burke.

Mayor Amanda Findley said Shoalhaven City Council was “honoured” to be a part of the Sharing the National Collection program and she was confident it would foster a deeper appreciation of arts and culture.

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“This partnership with the National Gallery will provide the community and visitors with a rare opportunity to engage with one of the world’s most celebrated sculptures and provide an added incentive for domestic and international visitors to head to the Shoalhaven,” she said.

The gallery attracts more than 30,000 visitors a year and the arrival of Broken obelisk will provide opportunities for it to extend its programming and increase visitor numbers.

The Federal Government is providing $11.8 million over four years to fund the cost of transporting, installing and insuring the works in the Sharing the National Collection.

The Shoalhaven Regional Gallery is open 10 am – 4 pm Tuesday to Friday and 10 am – 2 pm Sunday. Broken obelisk can be viewed in the gallery’s forecourt at any time.

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