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Kenneth Armitage sculpture prepared for its new home

Kenneth Armitage sculpture prepared for its new home

Works of art join the City Collection in many different ways. Some are acquired, some are bequeathed, and some are gifted to us. And some of those gifts come from the most unexpected places!

Pandarus (Version 12), a 1.5m high bronze sculpture by renowned artist Kenneth Armitage, was gifted to us by Australia Fair Shopping Centre. Yes, the shopping centre in Southport!

Kenneth Armitage is a graduate of the Stade School of the Art, England. He’s considered a pioneer of modern British sculpture, and is a contemporary of Lynn Chadwick, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.

He first exhibited in 1952 and, until he passed away in 2002, he had a career spanning more than half a century. Known for his semi-abstract bronzes. Pandarus (Version 12) is the final in a body of work known as the Pandarus series, made between 1961 and 1965.

Conceived in 1964 and cast in an edition of two by the Campanella Foundry, Caracas, the title derives from the character in the story of Troilus and Cressida who acts as mediator between the lovers.

In 1963 Armitage was invited to visit Venezuela by Miguel Aroyo, Director of the Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas, to help expand the international awareness of the local sculptors. The trip was funded jointly by the British Council and the wealthy Venezualan collector Hans Neumann.

Although Armitage did not wish to teach or give lectures, he was keen to work together with a group of the best sculptors in an environment conducive to the exchange of ideas

The first work that he undertook while in Venezuela was a 12th version of Pandarus. It was originally intended to be cast only once for the Museo de Bellas Artes until Neumann requested that another cast be made for his collection. Instead of Armitage receiving payment for this second cast, they agreed that the money would be donated to the local sculptors in the form of an Armitage ‘Fundacio’ meaning Foundation. The Kenneth Armitage Foundation continues to support artists to this day.

The Tate Gallery, who have Pandarus (version 8) in their collection, mention the unusual methods Armitage used to make this series:

‘For the Pandarus series, Armitage developed an unorthodox method of lost-wax casting by which the four sections of the column and the two funnels were first modelled in clay, then covered in plaster and the inner surfaces waxed to a thickness of a quarter of an inch. The wax tube sections were then cast and brazed together, with the two funnels welded into the holes. Brass was chosen as the most suitable metal because of its bright yellow colour‘.

Pandarus (Version 12) cast in bronze, was originally installed at Brisbane World Expo in 1988 and was one of seven works exhibited there by Armitage, including four from the Pandarus series.

Acquired by Australia Fair Shopping Centre, Pandarus (Version 12) was initially loaned to us after the Expo to be included in the sculpture walk around Evandale Lake before later being gifted to us to become a permanent part of the City Collection.

Armitage’s work is highly collectible and there’s no doubt that Pardarus (Version 12) is a notable sculpture in the City Collection.

As part of our preparation behind the scenes to open the new HOTA Gallery in early 2021 we’re having conservation work carried out on various pieces in the collection. While bronze is a material that holds up well to the elements the surface of Pandarus (Version 12) has been cleaned and waxed to restore its original patina. A few weeks ago, The Rainforest by William Robinson was sent for conservation in readiness as well.

And once the new HOTA Gallery opens in early 2021 it’s likely the Pandarus (Version 12) will take pride of place in front of the Café area of the gallery. We can’t wait to see it restored and standing proudly in its new home.

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HOTA proudly acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout South East Queensland.