Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Spectacular ‘Fan’ Design Selected as Centenary of Women’s Suffrage Artwork

A stunning design by Sydney artists, Jennifer Turpin and Michaelie Crawford, has been selected as the winning artwork to celebrate the Centenary of Women’s Suffrage in Australia.

On 12 June, we celebrated the one hundred year anniversary since most Australian women were granted the right to vote and to stand in federal elections. To mark this important anniversary, the Commonwealth Government decided to commission a major public artwork to be installed in a prominent location within Canberra’s parliamentary area.

At a time when Australians are understandably troubled by international events, and the consequences that flow from them, it is quite appropriate for us to celebrate our past achievements and to look to the future. Public art can make a strong statement both about our past achievements and our preparedness to move forward.

The Turpin/Crawford ‘Fan’ will be a prominent new public artwork in the heart of Canberra on Federation Mall. Appropriately, the site is on the land axis between Old and New Parliament House.

The scale and movement alone make the winning sculpture a dramatic piece. Giving most Australian women the vote and the right to stand for Parliament was also a dramatic change on any scale. We were the first in the world to do so. The change set off a continual movement of women into the political arena. Scale and movement are therefore essential elements of this piece.

The elevated semi-circular kinetic sculpture will rest in an open fan position until engaged by wind. The individual blades will then move fluidly in a mesmerising rhythm driven by nature. This collaborative performance between art and nature activates the monumental symmetry of Canberra’s Land Axis.

The shape of the Fan in its open radial position echoes the shape of the site, which the artists have treated with great sensitivity. The slightest breeze will keep the blades rotating gently, constantly changing the shape of the sculpture.

Experienced up close the huge scale of the artwork will impress onlookers and will be an unequivocal celebration of women’s suffrage and the continuing contribution that women make to the nation.

Jennifer Turpin and Michaelie Crawford’s winning design, ‘Fan’ was one of five considered by the jury panel comprising Ms Betty Churcher (Chairman), former Director of the National Gallery of Australia, Mr Ron Radford, Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia, and Ms Anna Waldmann, Manager Visual Arts/Craft Australia Council for the Arts.

While praising all five submissions, the jury was unanimous in selecting ‘Fan’ as the winning design saying “its monumental scale, rich colour and its ceaseless movement will make it a notable feature of Canberra’s central Land and Water Axis.”

Construction and fabrication of the winning design will be completed in late 2003 pending Parliamentary and National Capital Authority approval.