A new bronze sculpture has been unveiled at Hughes Shopping Centre to replace the original artwork, Stepping Out, which was stolen in 2016.
Minister for the Arts and Cultural Events, Gordon Ramsay said the new piece, A Delicate Moment, by artists Susie Bleach and Andrew Townsend, reflected key themes identified by Hughes residents.
It is also a response to the affection Hughes residents had for the statue they had lost, according to the artists.
“She stood as a dignified and gentle reminder of community values,” they said. A quiet figure rendered in heroic bronze. Our proposal responds to the affection expressed for Stepping Out by the Hughes community. In acknowledging this we felt it appropriate to offer a figure that also enshrines the qualities of dignity and strength.”
The new bronze figure cradles in her arms a large bird, a reference to our relationship with nature.
“Many cultures believe birds symbolise eternal life – a link between earth and heaven, the mundane and the spiritual,” the artists said. “Birds are free to roam, to migrate with the seasons and evoke notions of liberation,
independence and free will. They are harbingers of the new day and of spring, a potent symbol of positive renewal and mystery.
“Together the woman and the bird speak of symbiosis, of empathy, trust, nurture, of rescue, comfort, fragility and protection.”
Mr Ramsay said the new sculpture embraced the Hughes community’s vision of a nostalgic, imaginative and playful artwork.
“Public artwork is a fundamental part of cultural life in Canberra, and each piece becomes part of our community. I hope this new piece not only fills the gap left by the original artwork but creates its own place in our shared history,” he said.
The Government also wants to ensure the loss of Stepping Out would not be repeated.
“We know how important this piece is for Hughes residents, so we have reinforced the footing and fixtures to ensure it remains in place for the community to enjoy,” Mr Ramsay said.
The original sculpture, Stepping Out (1997) by artists Giovanna Ianniello and Gerard Murphy, was not able to be recreated because the original mould was destroyed.