5 April 2022

Civic's vandalised big magpie to fly off for repairs

| Evelyn Karatzas
Join the conversation
Big Swoop

Big Swoop is expected to be removed from Garema Place this week. Photo: Yanni Pounartzis.

It was designed to be Canberra’s newest icon – a massive magpie sculpture in Civic – but the “Big Swoop” will now be removed from the city centre for repair following damage by vandals.

Just over two weeks ago, hours after its official unveiling, Canberra artist Yanni Pounartzis’ masterpiece was attacked by vandals, who smashed the bird’s feet as well as the chip it was feasting on.

Now, disappointed and devastated, Yanni and the City Renewal Authority have decided to have the sculpture removed and repaired.

“We’re removing the sculpture to prevent it from any further damage, and we’re going to put it into a facility where we can repair it and look at ways where we can create a more robust and stronger magpie basically,” Yanni said.

“Unfortunately, although it’s had an overwhelming response and it’s incredible how many people already care about it, there’s a few people out there who are determined to test its strength and capacity for foolish reasons.”

READ ALSO E-scooters now a go between City and Belco

Yanni said he had been in talks with the City Renewal Authority to determine when the repairs would start, but a timeframe was yet to be confirmed.

“They’re fully supportive of repairing it and rectifying the damage,” he said.

“The priority now is to remove it and repair it and then we will decide if it goes back to its original place or perhaps a safer place.”

Yanni said the sculpture could return to its original home in Garema Place, but “the options of relocating are still part of the conversation, we haven’t decided yet”.

“One of the main things we are looking at is raising it on a plinth off the ground,” he said. “The whole idea was to really connect with people on the ground and make it interactive. Unfortunately, people took advantage of that.”

Big Swoop was funded by a Placemaking Grant

Big Swoop was funded by a Placemaking Grant from the City Renewal Authority and made by Yanni Pounartzis. Photo: Supplied.

A City Renewal Authority spokesperson said Big Swoop was designed to be durable and resilient, because it was the artist’s intention that the public could interact with it.

“Big Swoop has been a big success in helping activate Garema Place … and we are saddened to see that some members of the community are testing the limits of this much-loved artwork,” the spokesperson said.

READ MORE Meet the Canberra artist behind the massive magpie that’s about to swoop into Civic

“While we would like to understand why this has occurred, our immediate concern is to work with the artist, Yanni Pounartzis, to have it removed as soon as possible for repair and to plan how to prevent further damage from occurring.”

The damage has been reported to ACT Policing.

Streetscape of Garema Place in Canberra with people walking through it

Yanni said, in future, he would look for a location that has more security. Photo: Maksym Kozlenko.

“I have filed a police report for vandalism and the police are looking into it,” Yanni said.

“They said they would check the CCTV footage and if they can identify the people then they will pursue it, but right now it’s just a police report for vandalism.

“We don’t know if there’s actually footage of them, but we’re going to see if there’s anything found.”

Yanni hopes people will respect his artwork in the future.

“Unfortunately there will always be somebody who will try to destroy it but hopefully when it’s been rectified, it’ll be much stronger and a lot more robust,” he said.

READ ALSO Canberra artist inspired to draw on the art of healing

Yanni said he was buoyed by how many people had come to care about his sculpture in such a short amount of time.

“The community and the City Renewal Authority have embraced the magpie and want it to survive, they don’t want it to disappear,” he said.

“It’s resonated with people around the country and it’s been quite incredible.”

The repairs are expected to take some time.

“We are trying to rectify it as soon as possible, but our priority right now is to remove it and protect it from further damage,” Yanni said.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
MischaSimmons7:40 pm 05 Aug 23

This is why we can’t have nice things.

It’s feral plain and simple. Perhaps a result of poorly funded public schooling. When you don’t care what happens at school it’s harder to care what happens in life.
We reap what we sow. Poor Swoop!

I don’t mind if Big Swoop was situated in my yard. Difficult for vandals to access and guarded by a squadron of highly trained and vengeful magpies.

Once it is repaired it should be relocated to Belconnen, perhaps next ro it’s feathered kindred – the penis owl

Capital Retro3:07 pm 06 Apr 22

Which Canberra Public High School was involved?

“I have filed a police report for vandalism and the police are looking into it,” I wouldn’t expect much from that. The current crop of ACT police officers are too busy with their
Bat belt gadgets, Disco decorated cars and eating sushi to ‘investigate’ anything. Get an offender and put them before the Courts and prove me wrong. Happy to eat my words and apologise if they grab the idiots who have done this. They could start with a clean up of Civic if they want to reduce the problems there.

You kind of have to expect this given the sort of characters we are enticing into the city.
Was it a shock to anyone that the expensive brass fitting were lifted from the new install by the lake.
In the end they justify more CCTV to do mass surveillance on us even more.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.