New owl sculpture points towards hope

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Bev Hogg with “Wayfinder”.

A NEW sculpture by one of Canberra’s best-known artists now adorns the approach to the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children, located in Canberra Hospital, Woden.

The formal opening was delayed because of bushfires in late 2019, but the owl-like artwork is now visible on Gilmore Crescent, Garran.

Bev Hogg, celebrated as one of Canberra’s leading ceramic artists, said this morning (February 19) that she and her collaborators, artists Elizabeth Patterson, Mike McGregor and Steven Holland, had created “The Wayfinder” out of concrete, stainless steel and granite.

“This fanciful bird at top of rock has a strong life force, she points our way towards hope, wisdom and mystery,” she has written.

The funds to create the new piece of art has been donated through the Canberra Hospital Foundation by Canberra philanthropist and arts patron Mrs Sotiria Liangis who, in 2013, committed to support the Canberra Hospital and the Centenary Hospital to the level of $1 million over five years.

According to Linda Kohlhagen, the acting executive director of women, youth and children for Canberra Health Services, her donations had already provided medical equipment and made possible enhanced spaces such as the paediatric ED and the outdoor paediatric therapy space, as well as artwork, including the glass wall at the entrance of the Centenary Hospital and the reflective garden near the paediatric ward.

While citing the World Health Organisation’s recently-released report on the arts’ connection to health and wellbeing, Ms Kohlhagen also said: “Mrs Liangis rarely talks of the reasons for her generosity but she has acknowledged the importance of those who are able to give the support to do so – she feels very passionate about children, sick children and families and Canberra benefits from this generosity every day.“

Speaking to “CityNews” this morning, Hogg said her brief had been fairly simple, to create a sculpture marking the entrance to the women’s hospital – “a way finder”. But, she added, with considerations of traffic and space, the footprint had been quite precise.

To her, she said, the owl signified women’s wisdom, a motif, the hospital’s “Arts in Health” curator Jenny McFarlane commented, ran through Greek, Celtic and Aboriginal cultures.

Hogg said she had searched high and low to find a suitable rock on which to install the owl, but luckily eventually found the perfect one within our region in Gungahlin.

As for whether the wayfinding owl has a fish on its head or whatever, Hogg was enigmatic.

“I let the material take over,” she said. “I like my artworks to be open-ended, to tell stories, to make people think and feel and maybe ask, “Fish? Moon? What is it?”

“The Wayfinder” can now be viewed on Gilmore Crescent, Garran, outside the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children.

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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