Is there anything more quintessentially Garema Place than a magpie eating a hot chip?
Meet Big Swoop, a half-tonne, 2.4m-high, 3.5m-long sculpture due to be installed in Garema Place next month.
The Canberra artist behind it, Yanni Pounartzis, says he hopes the work is less an inanimate object and more another character for people to greet in the city centre.
Big Swoop was funded by a Placemaking Grant from the City Renewal Authority after Mr Pounartzis came up with the idea for the work, and brought it to life with the help of sculptor Gustavo Balboa, who has worked on blockbuster movies such as Alien: Covenant and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
"They're so Canberra. Everyone has a story about a magpie," he said.
Big Swoop even comes with his own back story, a bird who grew up in Garema Place, eating chips from long-lamented Civic takeaway Chicken Gourmet, and becoming a big strapping maggie who "reckons he owns the place".
"That's why it's so big," Mr Pounartzis said.
And the artist has his own memories and stories of magpies in Canberra.
"I remember as an nine-year-old crossing an oval, a park, to get to primary school and I was pinned down by one swooping me. And I was lying there for at least half an hour, just traumatised, I couldn't move. And just that swooping sound traumatised me for years," he said.
"Then, a couple of years ago, I was in Garema Place and I was eating chips and they just basically surrounded me. They own the place. And I just had this moment and actually said to them, 'You swoop me in spring and now you want me to feed you'.
"They're quite cool, they're kind of cheeky. And then I thought, 'This is magpie central. Wouldn't it be cool to have just a really big magpie eating a chip?'. And that's where it came from.
"And when the Placemaking Grant, I thought, this is it. This is my opportunity."
An abstract painter, Mr Pounartzis briefed the sculptor and engineers on how the work should be posed.
"My background is as a creative director working in advertising in Sydney and I have a lot of contacts in Sydney. I thought, 'If I want to do this thing, I want the best on the job'. And, fortunately, I had contacts to people who make movie sets," he said.
Mr Pounartzis said already "the response had been amazing" to Big Swoop.
"Everyone on my personal socials has been so excited. I knew this would resonate with Canberrans," he said.
"I've titled it Big Swoop and I want to it to have a personality."
Big Swoop will be positioned at the intersection of Garema Place and City Walk, underneath the trees.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.