What will be the future of Tom Bass’ P&O Wall Fountain?

The P&O Wall Fountain in Hunter Street, Sydney – a famous Tom Bass sculpture and icon of Sydney Public Art. Will the fountain remain in this historic precinct?

As award winning sculptor Richard Goodwin notes, the P&O Wall Fountain ‘bites’ into the Hunter Street building (pictured above), making it one of Australia’s greatest public sculptures. When Richard was a young artist, the wall fountain inspired him in his own practice.

Originally intended in 1962 to be carved into the granite façade of the P&O building, Tom Bass’ more affordable solution was to fabricate his wall fountain sculpture in copper.

The sculpture became much talked about soon after its installation when editors of OZ magazine published on the cover of its magazine a photograph of the fountain serving as a urinal.

The sculpture’s position in Hunter Street is in an historic conclave of Tom Bass’ works in this area of the City of Sydney.

At 126 Phillip Street can be found the copper AGC sculpture created in 1962 as an icon for the corporate and financial industry and a tribute to hire purchase. When the original building was demolished in 2002, the work was salvaged, restored and reinstalled by Deutsche Bank into the newly designed Sir Norman Foster building.

Research – the ICI Sculpture – made in 1959 for ICI at 61 Macquarie Street, Sydney, was in 1999 was relocated by Mirvac to the north wall of Quay Grand Suites (pictured left), adjacent to the Moore Steps at Circular Quay.  It is a sculptural tribute to industry and scientific research.

The AMP sculpture commissioned by Australia Mutual Providence in 1960 for the AMP Building at Circular Quay is still in position on the façade of this iconic Sydney Cove building. The sculpture represents the Goddess of Plenty, reflecting the AMP’s motto Amicus Certus in re Incerta (a true friend in uncertain times).

With the expansion of the Sydney metro, there is some suggestion the P&O building may need to be demolished for the underground rail and Martin Place station.  Sydney will not want to lose the wall fountain. The P&O building should be preserved to ensure the future of the Tom Bass wall fountain. Or else the sculpture should definitely be salvaged and repositioned by the Sydney Metro Project and the Sydney City Council in or near this area of the city to which it historically belongs.

Recently Brendan Trembath reported on this development on ABC Radio National PM program, click here to read more.

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