Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Orange carves out history with poet dedication

A piece of public art dedicated to Australian poet Francis Webb will take pride of place at the Civic Square North Court thanks to a commission by the Friends of Orange Regional Gallery (FORG).

Born in Adelaide in 1925, Webb, a little-known but highly respected poet, spent time as a patient at Bloomfield Hospital in the 1960s and 70s, writing several poems about the area.

Well-known artist, sculptor and stone carver Ian Marr (pictured) has begun hand carving text from Webb’s poetry into two stone slabs on-site on the Peisley Street side of the North Court.

The project is expected to take about a month to complete. Mr Marr will hand carve sections from Webb’s poem Canobolas on one of the slabs, while the other will feature lyrics from Puccini’s Nessun Dorma, referencing Webb’s love of music.

Both these passions will be represented in the carving, Council said in a statement.

“Francis Webb would take long walks around Orange and visit Mount Canobolas with his family, and he brought this beautiful landscape into his works, while he also referred to his intense love of music and the musical experiences he’d had in his poems,” Mr Marr said.

Australian poet, Francis Webb.

He said the stone was Mintaro Slate, a 900-million-year-old metamorphosed siltstone sourced from north of Adelaide, where Webb was born.

Orange City Council Services Policy Committee Chair, Councillor Mel McDonell said the artwork was a permanent tribute to the poet.

“This work will be a stunning addition to the city’s public art network and another unique piece in our collection by Mr Marr, in addition to his works at Orange Botanic Gardens and in private collections around the region,’ Cr McDonell said.

“While acknowledging Webb’s love of music, it will also tie in beautifully with the new Orange Regional Conservatorium when it is built.”

The $20,000 project is funded by FORG, a community organisation that funds the purchase of artworks for the Gallery’s permanent collection and fosters art appreciation in Orange and district.

FORG president Maria Edwards said the group members commissioned the work to mark the gallery’s recent expansion.

“We wanted to make a lasting contribution, it’s an exciting project,” she said.

“The stone is absolutely stunning and, being publicly accessible, people can watch Ian as he carves, and they can touch the work.”

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