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Acknowledgement of Country — WestConnex would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we have built WestConnex and our public art and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. We extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and invite everyone to share, be proud and be empowered by their culture.

The Four Graces by Deborah Halpern


Linear Park, Kingsgrove Road entrance, Kingsgrove

The artwork is intended to welcome people and invite people to engage with it and to create a personal relationship with it so that the sculptures become part of day to day life.

A collection of glass mosaic-tiled sculptures by Deborah Halpern creates a vibrant portal to Linear Park from Kingsgrove Road. Titled The Four Graces, the figures represent natural elements: Wind, River, Cloud and Solar. They are an allegoric family that symbolise the land, the weather, and creatures that inhabit Kingsgrove and the surrounding areas. Each figure is kinetic, their wind-activated heads bringing the figures to life.

The Wind figure celebrates this energetic force and the central role it has played in shaping our landscapes, ecologies, mythologies, science and technology. River is a reference to the Cooks River and Wolli Creek waterways that are significant geographic features of the local environment and sustain local bird and fish populations. Cloud refers to the local native flora, remnants of the historical wildlife of the area. Solar has small ears that evoke the animals that still call this area home, like the Common Brushtail Possum and the Grey-headed Flying Fox. The four works represent family, community, and the inter-connection between all things.

Headshot of the artist Deborah Halpern

Deborah Halpern

Melbourne, Australia

Over her forty-year career, Deborah Halpern has produced an extraordinary body of work traversing the mediums of sculpture, painting, pottery, glass blowing and printmaking. Through her numerous public sculptures, the artist has become a much-respected figure within the art world. Halpern’s best-known works include Angel, commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria to stand in the south moat of the gallery, and now relocated to Birrarung Marr, and Ophelia, commissioned by the Southgate development project and situated in the riverside promenade in front of the main Yarra river entrance. Ophelia was named as the official Face of Melbourne by Tourism Victoria during the 1990s.

Reflecting on her enduring affiliation with Lewis Carroll 's Alice in Wonderland, the artist says 'I find the state of the world as mad as the Mad Hatter 's tea party, with the door mouse in the teapot, the hookah smoking caterpillar on the toadstool that Alice nibbles and the sea of tears that Alice swims in’. Conflating humanity and animality; culture and nature, Halpern 's hybridity of forms ultimately celebrates the contemporary condition of everything being possible.

In 2006, the National Gallery of Victoria 's Ian Potter Gallery at the Federation Square held a survey exhibition of Halpern’s career to coincide with the relocation of Angel to Birrarung Marr. Other notable works include Portal to Another Time and Place, at Pt Leo Sculpture Park, Power of the Community, at Beauty Park, Frankston South, Victoria and Ship of Fools, created for the 2011 Sydney Sculpture by the Sea. Incarnating the artist’s characteristic spirit of experimentation and imagination, Halpern's whimsical sculptures conjure a dreamscape of animated childhood fantasies and fairy tales. Large, totemic figures adorned with hand-mixed glazes and jewel-like mosaics watch over wandering creatures and anthropomorphic busts with unblinking omniscient eyes. These surreal beings embody the irrationality of our contemporary world wherein conventional frontiers of logic and expectation are being breached by unimaginable human advancements and radical new ways of thinking.




              Launch prize intro