A highlight of the Museum’s collection, Clement Meadmore’s lyrical outdoor sculpture Awakening, 1968, was originally commissioned for the AMP/St James plaza at the corner of Bourke Street and William Street in Melbourne. When the plaza was redeveloped in 2013, the sculpture was relocated to TarraWarra Museum of Art where it remains today as a permanent installation, sitting harmoniously within its new environment.
Made of Cor-ten steel, the work weighs over six tonnes and measures more than four metres in height and almost eight metres in length. Over time, this material develops a dark rust patina, which protects it from erosion. Meadmore was one of the first sculptors to work with Cor-ten steel, using it to create works which fuse elements of Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism into twisting, serpentine forms which, despite their immense weight, convey an impression of effortless physical grace.
Meadmore’s sculptures from the late 1960s onwards are characterised by simple rectangular volumes combined with curvaceous twists. As one circumnavigates his sculptures, the appearance and perspective varies, further adding to their dynamism. Meadmore pursued a modernist vision, focusing on abstract shapes, singular forms and unimpaired surfaces. While his work grew from the period of modernism known as Minimalism, his use of serpentine constructions creates an expressivity that has led to interpretations of his work that go beyond the object itself. To use his own phrase, Meadmore sought to ‘transcend geometry’.
Clement Meadmore (1929–2005) was born in Melbourne and studied aeronautical engineering and industrial design at RMIT, before establishing a successful practice as a furniture designer in the 1950s, at which time he also created his first welded steel sculptures. In 1963 he moved to New York, where he lived for the rest of his life, becoming an American citizen in 1976.
Meadmore is represented in major museum collections in Australia and the United States, and remembered through the numerous outdoor permanent public commissions that continue to be enjoyed by the public to this day.