UNA, College of Science ANU, Canberra

UNA, College of Science ANU, Canberra

Client: Australian National University
Year: 2012

UNA, a stainless steel sculpture by artist Wolfgang Buttress (UK) was commissioned in 2012 for the new science precinct at The Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra.

The highly polished four metre diameter stainless steel sphere features 9,000 laser and hand cut perforations which represent the stars visible to the naked eye in the Southern Hemisphere which are laser cut according to their luminosity. The stars were mapped in collaboration with eminent Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics astronomer, Dr Daniel Bayliss.

The magic of the sculpture is revealed once you look inside. Peering through the perforation of a single ‘star’ the viewer is suddenly captivated by a field of cosmic vision.  The highly polished inner sphere reflects tiny rays of light filtering through the outer ball.  Bouncing off the polished inner surfaces, the effect, at different times of the day, reveals a beautiful and entirely different universe.

This artwork concept is based on the relationship between micro and macro, the atom and the universe. Buttress describes the work as “evoke[ing] universal structures. The symmetry of the human body is present throughout the natural world – evident in cell formation, nautilus shells, diatoms and the stars themselves. By associating us with these phenomena, Buttress seeks to re-establish a more empathetic and harmonious relationship with the universe by means of poetic place-makers which engender a feeling of centeredness. Emphasising connections between the micro and macro, UNA can be seen as a portal of reflection that suggests a sense of wonder, elation and sublimity.”

Merran Morrison worked closely with Rebecca Townsend (Creative Road), the artist, architects, fabricator and client to ensure the smooth delivery of the artwork.

“It’s been a great experience working with you. UNA is the perfect focal point for the Colleges of Science and a great addition to the campus.”

Paul Dash, Senior Project Architect, Lyons Architecture

PublicArt Works (formallyArtscape) project managed the delivery of UNA by Wolfgang Buttress for the ANU’s new medical science precinct. It was a unique project in that the site was in Canberra, the artist in the UK, Lyons Architects are in Melbourne and the artwork was fabricated in Brisbane. It is a credit to their rigorous project management and communication skills that the delivery of UNA has been the smoothest public art project in my 30 years in the job.

Ian Duff, Senior Project Coordinator, Project Delivery Facilities & Services Division, The Australian National University

They are a fantastic company – professional, diligent, sensitive, honest, perceptive and fun to work with. The UNA project prior to commencement had the potential to be very challenging. It was in fact one of the smoothest projects that I have had the pleasure to work on.

Wolfgang Buttress, Principal, Buttress Ltd