11 December 2022

Popular magpie sculpture officially swoops back into the city

| Evelyn Karatzas
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magpie sculpture

Big Swoop has been welcomed back by Canberrans. Photo: Yanni Pounartzis.

The famous magpie sculpture that impressed Canberrans earlier this year has finally returned to its home in Garema Place.

Big Swoop, designed by local artist Yanni Pounartzis, was officially welcomed back on 2 December after undergoing months of repairs. Vandals damaged the sculpture within two weeks of it being unveiled in March earlier this year.

Now in a more centralised position outside Redpath Shoes, the half-tonne, 3.5 metre-long, 2.4 metre-high structure is already wowing Canberrans again.

Yanni said although it was a bit of an undertaking to get Big Swoop back, everything went well.

“It’s been a massive relief,” he said.

“The response from the Canberra community has been great so far. It has gotten a lot of attention and people just can’t wait to see it again.

“It’s really great watching Big Swoop reach all these different platforms. Seeing so many people embrace it, is just amazing.”

Yanni thanked the City Renewal Authority for its support in bringing the artwork back.

READ MORE Civic’s vandalised big magpie to fly off for repairs

Big Swoop was initially part of the City Renewal Authority’s Placemaking Grants Program, put together by sculptor Gustavo Balboa and scenic artist Ari Maack earlier this year.

The magpie has now been brought back to artistic life with the help of Bloodhound FX Studio fibreglass expert Stuart Roswell.

Yanni said Stuart specialised in building movie sets and creating public installations.

“He rebuilt Big Swoop with eight millimetres of fibreglass which is designed to last decades, so it will be able to withstand a lot,” he said.

“It also sits on a plinth made out of steel so it’s really solid and super robust.

“It’s an exact replica of the original Big Swoop. It’s basically identical.”

Yanni said a mould was formed from the original statue after the sculpture was damaged beyond repair.

“They basically formed a body around it using fibreglass which took about three weeks all up and then it was repainted,” the artist said.

“They worked off visual reference of the original Big Swoop, and then coated it with UV (Ultraviolet) protection and anti-graffiti product. It’s incredibly robust.”

magpie sculpture

Big Swoop is back bigger and stronger than ever in a new location. Photo: Yanni Pounartzis.

The Big Swoop artist now hoped the Canberra community would look after it.

“It’s in a new location under security cameras, and in a much greener place where there’s more people and more activity,” Yanni said.

“Part of the objective with the grant I received was to bring more people into Garema Place. Now Big Swoop is in a better location that is a lot more visible and surrounded by shops, I think it will definitely be able to achieve that.

“Hopefully everyone will respect it this time … I’m confident people are going to take care of it.

“Everyone’s happy and excited to see Big Swoop back, and people are making trips out to the city just to see it, which is amazing.”

Yanni said he had even seen demand for Big Swoop merchandise, something he would consider.

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

City Renewal Authority Place Experience and Communications executive branch manager Jen Ramsay said the team was delighted to have Big Swoop back.

“Urban artworks like Big Swoop contribute to creating public spaces where people want to meet and develop new social connections,” Ms Ramsay said.

“In that respect, Big Swoop has been a big success in helping activate Garema Place.

“The giant magpie has received an enthusiastic welcome home from Canberrans and we trust the community will embrace Big Swoop and do the right thing so everyone can continue to enjoy his presence.”

To keep up with the latest news and updates, follow @big__swoop on Instagram.

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I just love the magpies. They are so full of character and highly intelligent. They use sight, hearing and smell to forage for food. They are also fun to watch searching and targeting a kill. Straightening up, implementing a powerful jab into the ground and coming up with a grub. They never miss. They are simply amazing!

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