Northshore Sculpture by the River

Despite writing in my previous post that I was excited to start blogging again, it has been just over three months and I haven’t had much to write about! That is, until yesterday, when I had the opportunity to go to Northshore Sculpture by the River in Hamilton, Brisbane. The best way to describe it is by saying it’s essentially a sculpture garden, with 26 sculptures lining a segment of the Brisbane River. As always, I’ll start with a quick overview before delving into some personal highlights.


This is the first year that Sculpture by the River has been held in Brisbane. As well as the outdoor exhibition, there were sculptures on display in a warehouse from 3 October to 11 October. I’m hoping that they extend this timeframe next year. The aim of the exhibition is to acknowledge the significance of the Brisbane River, including what role it has played in the past, what role it has in the present and what role it might have in the future. All of the sculptures on display speak to this theme.

The sculptures aren’t spread out over a large geographical area. However, they are spaced out enough for a decent half hour walk (if you read all the accompanying signs). The signs were sometimes difficult to find, but were at least black text on a white background. If you are wanting to ensure you don’t miss any sculptures, I highly recommend visiting the website and downloading the brochure before you arrive. It also provides some great ‘how to get here’ tips. The exhibition is also, of course, ‘Covid Safe’ as it’s outdoors with plenty of room between the sculptures and lots of visible signage.

It was interesting to see the different interpretations of the River and how the various artists decided to depict it’s history, present or future in their sculptures. Although there are large car parks and other visual distractions along the path, they made a great decision to have the sculptures on the side of the River so you can ignore those other views.

Top 8 Sculptures

Rather than share all 26 sculptures, I wanted to select my ‘Top 8’. In no particular order, here are the 8 (not 5, not 10) sculptures that I found particularly beautiful or memorable.

  1. Superegg, Aluminium, by Jaco Roeloffs

A sculpture that very specifically speaks to the environment, Superegg is both visually stunning and a reminder of how humans continue to impact the planet. The little multi-coloured dots are single use coffee capsules symbolising, according to the artist, ‘human convenience and its impact on our natural environment’. From a distance, you wouldn’t immediately recognise these ‘dots’ as coffee pods. It’s only on closer inspection that the message of this sculpture becomes clear.

2. Crack the Code, Aluminium, by Ros Haydon

This artwork highlights how communication is key, a lesson that many could learn. Despite how we communicate has changed over time, the fact we have to communicate remains essential. Accompanying this sculpture are information sheets teaching visitors how to read morse code and semaphore signals. By reading the sheets, you can both crack the hidden message of the sculpture and learn a new skill!

3. Dingo Pups, Bronze, by Mela Cooke

I had to include this sculpture, because dogs. Also, it provides a window into the past as the artist statement reveals how dingoes and their pups were a common sight around the River. As it’s made from Bronze, it was visually stunning to see with so much detail.

4. The Line Boat, Aluminium, by Peter Denison

I love this sculpture because of the line work and its simplicity. What you can see is the outline of an old line boat that was built in Bundaberg and moved to Brisbane to assist with transporting bow and stern lines from other ships to the shore. The red is a perfect contrast to the scenery you can see through the sculpture – blue river and greenery on the other side.

5. Mr Percival, Aluminium, by Peter Steller

Similar to the previous sculpture, this one was striking due to its simplicity. The outline of the pelican seems to be enjoying being perched up high, overlooking the parkland near the River.

6. A Ship Landed, Recycled Materials, by Hermann Schraut

Although the artist statement didn’t shed any light on this sculpture (stating the background of this sculpture is unclear), I did like how it was in the shape of a UFO. The artist does allude to this sculpture being representative of early Australian migration when many were arriving by boat and being sailed down the Brisbane River.

7. A North Shore Encounter, Wharf Timber & Bronze, by Leeanne Elms

This sculpture combines heritage material, original wharf timber, with an insight into the past. Brisbane River is home to a particular type of cod, depicted in this sculpture as swimming around the piling. Although so much has changed in Brisbane, this cod has, and will hopefully, continue to be a part of our environment.

8. Scoot, Bronze, by Mela Cooke

Last, but certainly not least, is another bronze work by Mela Cooke. Similar to the dogs, there is so much detail in this sculpture depicting a young child riding a scooter. This sculpture represents how the surrounds of the Brisbane River are filled with parks and areas to enjoy activities such as scooting around.

Practical Information

Sculpture by the River is open until 6 December 2020. There is a guided tour scheduled for 2pm on November 15 accompanied by street entertainment from 11am to 3.30pm. For those wanting a bit more interaction, you can participate in the sculpture hunt where you acquire the materials to make a fish and contribute to the community sculpture. The entire exhibition is accessible. I also strongly recommend some sunscreen and a hat/umbrella. Entrance and parking are both free!

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