It was a typically chilly Canberra autumn morning as hundreds of dark-suited politicians strode through the airport building, making their way to the taxi rank to join a queue which snaked its way under scaffolding while the roar of airplanes competed with the sound of construction.
But in a quiet corner near the entrance a thing of beauty had appeared overnight, a huge bronze figure of a crouched woman with her arm thrust triumphantly skywards.
Perception and Reality 1, Australia's largest cast bronze figurative sculpture, was unveiled yesterday by Federal Arts Minister Simon Crean. The 7.5 metre, 3.8 tonne bronze work by Australian sculptor Andrew Rogers was driven up by truck from Melbourne.
''Andrew Rogers' work is well-known throughout the world. To have a sculpture of this scale at Canberra Airport, the gateway to our national capital, reaffirms this city's commitment to the arts,'' Mr Crean said.
''Private sector contributions like the commissioning of this significant piece are critical to the cultural life of our nation. This is not just a work of art but a demonstration of the capacity of private individuals and corporations to enrich the lives of all Australians through their philanthropic support of the arts.''
Rogers said he had been living with the work, which comprises 65 pieces of bronze, for more than four months.
''I am really pleased with this work, I think she is a fantastic lady and I am glad she is here,'' he said.
''This is one of the best airports I have been to in the world, the vision here is something special. It's a wonderful opportunity to be able to do something. I worked with clay, wax and then the bronze.
''As someone who has had sculptures unveiled all around the world, I can say it is very unusual for an airport to take the trouble and effort to consider how people might feel about the space they arrive in.''
Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron said the sculpture had been commissioned to act as a focus for the southern courtyard at the airport and was the precinct's fifth large-scale sculpture.
''Canberra Airport has set out from the beginning to show that an airport can be so much more than simply a piece of national transport infrastructure. Our program of commissioned public art is an important part of that approach.
''People coming to Canberra ought to have their spirits lifted and be inspired on arrival in the national capital; this sculpture will take their breath away. It's a very, very powerful work.''
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