A new sculpture by Australian artist Lindy Lee will be the National Gallery of Australia’s most expensive commission to date, with the four-meter-high public artwork costing the gallery $ 14 million.
Ouroboros, which the NGA has commissioned to mark its 40th anniversary, will be mirror-polished stainless steel and weigh around 13 tonnes, with the artist focusing on incorporating sustainable and recycled materials into the design and minimizing his carbon footprint.
The sculpture will be held near the main entrance to the NGA at the corner of King Edward Terrace and Parkes Place East in Canberra, and will be part of the gallery’s sculpture garden renewal project.
As the name suggests, the design is based on the traditional image of a snake eating its own tail. It will be large enough for people to walk on, with light filtering through holes in the surface of the sculpture.
Lee, 67, is a painter and sculptor who has created for more than four decades, drawing inspiration from her Buddhist faith and her Chinese heritage.
She described Ouroboros as “symbolic of repetition and renewal, the abundance of cyclical time, the eternal flow, the oneness of beginning and end, transformation and alchemy”.
âDuring the day, its highly polished mirror surface will reflect imagery of the floating world. The fleetingness of passers-by, cars, birds in flight and breathtaking clouds. And at night, the Ouroboros will light up internally, reflecting its light back to the world. It’s a dance between something solid and something that turns into stardust.
NGA Director Nick Mitzevich said the work would be a “benchmark” for the gallery, representing the institution’s goals to be an “equitable, inclusive and sustainable institution”.
“This commission represents a defining moment in our history and aligns with our mission to reflect and respond to contemporary Australia,” he said.
The NGA came under fire last year after Guardian Australia announced that its strategy had shifted to acquiring fewer but more expensive works of art, focusing on “masterpieces rather than volume â- a strategy that Mitzevich has pursued since taking over as director in 2019.
Audiences will have to wait a few years to see Lee’s work, which is expected to be completed in 2024.