Bronwyn Oliver

Survivor, 1988
65.0 x 33.0 x 45.0 cm


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Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney
Private collection, Sydney

Bronwyn Oliver's mysterious copper sculpture 'Survivor' (1989) is like a relic recovered from an archaeological dig. The year this work was produced the artist held a solo exhibition at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery titled 'Objects From Another Time', and it is clear from the title 'Survivor' that Oliver also intended this sculpture to invoke a mythical history. By transforming the surface of the copper with a blue and green patina, the artist creates the illusion of antiquity, reminiscent of a Bronze Age relic.

In 1988 Oliver was artist-in-residence in the French city of Brest where she researched the metal work techniques of the Celts. It was their traditions that turned her onto the creation of spiral structures in her work, which is evident in the conch-like form of 'Survivor'.

  • Survivor

Image courtesy of the artist's estate and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

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When Bronwyn Oliver enrolled to study painting at Sydney's Alexander Mackie College in 1977, a computer error assigned her to the school's sculpture department instead. A fortuitous glitch indeed, since the young artist was not only instantly taken with three-dimensional media, but also went on to become one of Australia's most significant sculptors.

Oliver was an artist of unique vision, and had an extraordinarily focused commitment to her practice. When she died in 2006 at age 47 she left a legacy of nearly three decades of outstanding work, including both domestic sculptures and ambitiously-scaled commissions such as 'Vine' which spirals 16.5 meters from the ceiling of Sydney's Hilton Hotel.

After graduating from art school in Sydney, Oliver completed her Masters of Art at Chelsea School of Art in London in 1983. In 1993 she was selected for the inaugural Beijing Biennale, and in 1994 she was the recipient of the prestigious Moet & Chandon Fellowship. Her signature organic metal sculptures are now held in most major public collections in Australia as well as many important national and international private and corporate collections. A significant retrospective of her work was held at the McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery in 2005, and in 2006 Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery held the memorial exhibition 'Bronwyn Oliver 1959 - 2006'.

Oliver said of her art: "When the ideas, the formal elements and the medium all work together a sculpture will 'sing' with a kind of rightness. It takes on a life, a presence, which is removed from this world. It belongs to a mythical other life, without a place in time."