For a few years now, Mum and I have gone somewhere on Boxing Day. It was Mum’s idea and I’ve happily turned it into a tradition. “Where are we going this year?” is a question often asked in the lead up to Christmas. We invite others, but as yet no takers.
This year, Mum enticed Dad as far as the map. They compiled a list of towns that would take us on a 200km loop through the central west of NSW. When I said we go somewhere on Boxing Day, I didn’t mean to the movies or the club!
Esky packed with Christmas leftovers, we got away around 10am.
Manildra, according to its sign, is the “Gem of the West”. We found a little reserve full of sheep grazing happily, not too bothered by our presence as we strolled along a seemingly long-lost path overhung with pepper trees. A little bit of archaeological play by the riverbank.
The pre-chosen road to Molong was blocked by a downed tree. We consulted the map and found a way round.
Molong is the “Place of Many Rocks”. We lunched in a well-tended park by the remnants of an old Cobb & Co stable. It dates from 1875. The building was destroyed in 1940 and three remaining walls were restored in 1974. As we left Molong on the Obley Rd for Cumnock, we found the rocks.
Obley Road is now the home of Animals on Bikes. It’s a selection of sculptures in paddocks along the roadside between Molong and Dubbo. The degree of whimsy and quality of execution varies greatly. Spotting them is half the fun, which I think was the main idea.
Cumnock, “Come Ride With Us”, apparently has a bicycle festival. We stopped here only briefly for a quick break, but long enough to grab a photo of the magpie on its bike.
Yeoval, according to the sign, is “Still The Greatest”, but I’m not sure what it’s still the greatest at? This was our final stop and, as it was nearly 3 in the afternoon, time for a nap. Banjo Paterson Park is not the shadiest of places but we found a tree under which we could park.
According to GeoScience Australia, “The Molong – Sofala Igneous Subprovince forms the eastern part of the Ordovician Macquarie Igneous Province, and contains predominantly mafic-intermediate volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks with some ultramafic volcanic and intrusive rocks formed in an island arc environment in central New South Wales. The subprovince hosts the Cadia Cu-Au porphyry deposit.” You can google the hard words for yourself.
Sculpture is a funny game. Anybody can pile some objects together and call it a sculpture. Everybody should. The result is a huge variety of viewing experiences; the good, the bad and the ugly. Even ugly can be intriguing.
This drive through central NSW was marked by two extremes. There’s the folksy art of the magpie and its accompanying menagerie of sculptured animals on bikes. And there’s the professional, oversized and somewhat brutal head of Henry Moore plonked in Banjo Paterson Park. Moore was a British sculptor. Banjo was an Australian poet. The animals on bikes made more sense.
Everyone has a way of responding to sculpture. There’s the “I know what I like” approach that focuses on the immediate and emotional response. There’s the historical or narrative reading, where a little more thought is applied but which is nevertheless still limited by the viewer’s knowledge of the history of art or the meanings of the narrative symbols.
But no matter how we respond, we are all responding to the relationship between the object and the space around it. A sculpture is dependent upon the space in which it sits.
Which is why, given a choice between Magpie on a Bike and Head of Moore, I’ll choose the magpie free-wheeling off the rooftop any day.
Animals on Bikes:
GeoScience Australia’s ProvExplorer, The Australian Geological Provinces Database:
Yeoval’s Head of Henry Moore Sculpture:
What are your thoughts?