This week, with the weather being so lovely, Roy decided it was the perfect time to do something outdoors. I suggested lots of different activities, but he wanted to 'take in some art', which proved a little more difficult. After all, he wanted to visit somewhere which not many people know about, which ruled out most art galleries and sculpture gardens! Eventually, I hit upon the perfect place to take him - Collector (not far from Canberra). Collector may be a small country town, but it has a massive open-air artwork called Dreamers Gate. If you would like to visit it, turn off the Federal Highway into Collector and drive along Church Street. The sculpture is opposite the Bushranger Hotel, and you can't miss it! You may even have driven through Collector to see the Bushranger Hotel (to find out about Roy's visit click here) and wondered what the sculpture was. Now, Roy can tell you!
When Roy first saw the sculpture, he thought it was a little bit strange - a fence but not to keep anything in or anything out. Just a fence, in the middle of a paddock. On top of that, it was a really weird, Gothic looking fence! When you look more closely though, Dreamers Gate is filled with symbolism! Dreamers Gate was built by Tony Phantastes between 1993 and 1997 as a memorial to, amongst other things, his father. It is also a monument to past land practices. It tells the story of the way which, in the past, farmers have cleared the native bush to grow crops and raise livestock, as well as telling the story of the life and death of the sculptors father.
Tony Phantastes grew up in a farming community in South Australia where he first learned about land practices. Each year his father was paid to clear a certain amount of bush land, whether the land was actually needed for farming or not! The sculpture, Dreamers Gate, reflects this. Dreamers Gate was built in sections and each seems to represent something slightly different. If you look closely, you will see trees sculpted into the gate. On the right, where the sculpture begins, the trees are sculpted to look natural, but as the work moves on they become bent and broken, reflecting the way which the land was cleared. There is even a sun built into the sculpture, in the third panel which is dominated by a circular window, and has pieces of mirror and glass embedded in it to reflect the sun as it moves across the sky. If you want to learn more, click here.
Unfortunately, Dreamers Gate is unfinished. In 1999 the local Council decided that the work was dangerous and told Tony that he had to stop work. In fact, they wanted the work to be demolished! Although the sculpture still stands today and is actually listed as a heritage item on the Register of National Estate, the fight to save it for future generations is still continuing. Interestingly, although the Council is concerned about whether the sculpture is safe or not, the methods used to build Dreamers Gate are actually adapted from ones used in building ships! So why not go and see this extraordinary sculpture!