Most Canberrans would agree that The Canberra Hospital is not the easiest place to navigate. For people trying to find their way into the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children, a new sculpture, appropriately named The Wayfinder, will mark the way to the front door.
Created by renowned local artist Bev Hogg, with collaborators Elizabeth Patterson, Mike McGregor and Steven Holland, the sculpture displays an owl atop a large granite rock.
“When I started thinking about bushwalking, I started thinking about cairns, rocks that are placed on paths to direct and guide you,” Ms Hogg said.
The artist said finding the right rock for the base was a challenge. She eventually sourced one from Gungahlin.
The depiction of an owl was also significant.
“The bird, for me, is always about transcendence,” Ms Hogg said, noting the owl has been a significant symbol and associated with women in many cultures.
“The bird for me is about that connection between earth and the sky and it’s that conduit that reminds us of our connections but it’s also a way of transcending our normal life.”
The artwork was funded by the Canberra Hospital Foundation, which received a pledge of $1m over five years from developer and philanthropist Sotiria Liangis in 2013 to go towards the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children. Her donation has also funded medical equipment and spaces such as the Reflective Garden where families are able to spend time with sick children.
Ms Hogg’s sculpture, which is installed on Gilmore Crescent, Garran, is an important addition, said Linda Kohlhagen, the acting executive director of women, youth and children at ACT Health.
“Bev’s collection of work is well known across our community and we are so lucky to now have her work here on our hospital campus,” said Ms Kohlhagen.
“One can see Bev’s work at various locations across our city – at Yarralumla, Griffith, Dickson and Coombs shops. Hundreds of her small sculptures are bought each year and taken into Canberra homes and gardens, and of course her famous Listening Tree in the Legislative Assembly.”
In a place where people are often experiencing the greatest difficulties and joys of life, the artist hopes The Wayfinder will help people find ways to connect with storytelling and the world around them.
“I imagine when people come and go from the hospital that kids say, ‘What’s that bird doing there? Why’s it got a fish thingy on its head?’ Because it takes us to another space, an imaginary place, and then you can start to dream about what it is and we all bring our own interpretation to that,” Ms Hogg said.
“I like things to be open-ended, not to be contained too much. It gives scope for storytelling and imagination, and that’s important.”