March 1, 2023
Flugelman sculpture unveiled at UOW Innovation Campus
"Tetrapus" now stands at the main intersection of the campus
On Wednesday 1 March, a new addition to the University of Wollongong (UOW) art collection was unveiled at the Innovation Campus. Tetrapus, by Bert Flugelman was donated to the UOW Collection by Justice John Griffiths and Beth Jackson and grows the impressive collection of works by the artist across the Illawarra.
Situated in front of the Central Building on the Innovation campus, at the crossing of Puckey Avenue and Innovation Way, the large stainless-steel sculpture is inspired by fearsome creatures once imagined to have lurked in the depths of uncharted seas. The work appeared at the headland at Mackenzies Point as part of the 2007 Sculpture by the Sea.
Herbert “Bert” Flugelman, who was a Senior Lecturer of visual arts at UOW from 1984– 1990, was an artistic visionary who has inspired generations of artists and art lovers.
Born in Vienna, Austria, in 1923 he moved to Australia with his family at the age of 15 to escape the growing antisemitism in Europe.
A skilled craftsman with a curious mind, he is known for his distinctive use of metal and other industrial materials, creating sculptures that are both aesthetically beautiful and long-lasting. His artistic practice also included ceramics, print making and painting.
Flugelman’s work has been widely exhibited and can be found in major art collections in Australia, including the National Gallery of Australia (NGA), Art Gallery of New South Wales and Art Gallery of South Australia. Some of his most famous works include Tetrahedra at the Adelaide Festival Centre, Spheres which featured prominently at the centre of Adelaide’s Rundle Mall, and Cones in the Sculpture Garden of the NGA.
After a long and distinguished career, earning accolades including membership to the Order of Australia and admission to the Hundred Living National Treasures, Bert retired to a bush property south of Wollongong at Jamberoo. His connection to the region is noted with many sculptures now dotted throughout the Illawarra and Southern Highlands – Spiral and Wave at the Wollongong Art Gallery, Winged Figure (Lawrence Hargrave Memorial) in Keiraville, Ammonite at UOW Innovation campus and Gateway to Mount Keira at UOW main campus.
The work is a gift to the UOW Collection from Justice John Griffiths and Beth Jackson and represents a significant donation to the university.
“Beth and I are delighted to give Tetrapus by Bert Flugelman to the University of Wollongong. How appropriate it is for this iconic sculpture, which figured prominently in the 2007 Sydney Sculpture by the Sea exhibition, to be located for public display at UOW.
“Bert had a long and distinguished association with this University. Tetrapus joins the sizeable collection of Bert's work held by UOW, both actually and virtually through the digital collection. The University can proudly claim to hold the largest single collection in Australia of Bert’s outstanding works.
“Bert loved his sculptures to be directly experienced in public settings, and Tetrapus certainly attracted many tactile experiences while it sat happily near our home.
“May I congratulate the university on the choice of the site for Tetrapus. It gives Beth and I enormous joy that the sculpture stands opposite the Mike Codd building. Like Bert, Mike is a close and dear personal friend. Mike made a notable contribution to this university in his role as chancellor for over 10 years,” Justice Griffiths said.
The work also symbolically stands near the headquarters of Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources & Security (ANCORS) which is dedicated to delivering specialised research, education and training in ocean law and policy, maritime security, and marine resources management.
Karen Cass, Manager of the UOW Art Collection says, “As Bert Flugelman is increasingly acknowledged for the contribution he made to contemporary art in Australia, we are proud to be holding one of the largest collections of his artworks in the country. We were absolutely thrilled when Beth and John approached us with the offer to donate Tetrapus. It is a fantastical stainless steel sea creature that embodies so much that is Wollongong but with a nod to the humour and warmth which Bert was known for.”
To learn more about how you can support the UOW visit uow.edu.au/giving