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Lindy Lee described her sculpture as 'a dance between something that is solid and something that is just drifting off into stardust.'

National Gallery of Australia Commissions Its Most Expensive Work Ever

Lindy Lee, Ouroboros (2024). Artist's interpretation. Courtesy the artist, UAP and Sullivan+Strumpf. © Lindy Lee.

National Gallery of Australia (NGA) today announced a new sculpture garden commission by Brisbane-born artist Lindy Lee.

Lee's sculpture, Ouroboros, is named after the ancient symbol of a snake eating its tail.

'The Ouroboros is symbolic of repetition and renewal, of the abundance of cyclical time, eternal flow, unity of the beginning and the end, transformation and alchemy,' Lee said.

Artist Lindy Lee with a maquette of Ouroboros (2021).

Artist Lindy Lee with a maquette of Ouroboros (2021). Courtesy the artist. Photo: Zoe Wesolowski-Fisher.

Visitors will be able to walk inside the four-metre-tall, 13-tonne stainless steel sculpture to see light entering from hundreds of thousands of tiny holes in its surface.

'During the day its highly polished mirror surface will reflect the imagery of the floating world. The transience of passers-by, cars, birds in flight, and stunning clouds,' Lee said. 'And at night the Ouroboros will be lit internally, returning its light to the world.'

In her work, Lee draws on Taoist and Buddhist philosophies to celebrate the ties between humanity, nature, and the cosmos.

Lindy Lee, Ouroboros (2024). Artist's interpretation.

Lindy Lee, Ouroboros (2024). Artist's interpretation. Courtesy the artist, UAP and Sullivan+Strumpf. © Lindy Lee.

At AU $14 million, the commission is the gallery's biggest purchase ever, well above its next biggest investment, the $8.2 million spent on James Turrell's Skyspace in 2010.

NGA director Nick Mitzevich said Lee's sculpture aligned with the gallery's mission to reflect and respond to contemporary Australia as the institution enters its 40th year.

'It will be a landmark for the National Gallery and Canberra and is representative of our vision to be an equitable, inclusive and sustainable institution as we embark on the next 40 years,' he said.

The work is due to be completed in early 2024. —[O]

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