BLOOM, 1998

Part 1: Important Fine Art
26 November 2014


(1959 - 2006)
BLOOM, 1998


130.0 cm diameter

$150,000 - 200,000
Sold for $192,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 37 - 26 November 2014, Melbourne

Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney
(Commissioned by Hugh Jamieson, Sydney)
Company collection, Sydney

Catalogue text

As one of Australia's most celebrated artists, Bronwyn Oliver's intricate and enigmatic sculptures are renowned for their distinctive forms of convoluted beauty that are underpinned by numerous contradictions. They are simultaneously fragile yet strong, graceful but complex and full of life and movement despite their immobility. Oliver's delicately woven copper sculptures such as Bloom belong neither to past or present civilisations and are neither mythical nor factual. Timeless in their appearance, they are disconnected from a specific place, object or era and instead suggest a precious life force that connects deeply to the human soul.

As the title suggests, Bloom mesmerises like a beautiful flower that has just blossomed. Visions of a radiant sun also come to mind, whilst the elongated strands protruding from the circular body are similar to the spikes of a sea urchin. Alluding to a primordial foreign creature or an overgrown botanical organism, we are not entirely sure what the object is, or what it looks like, but the archaic and enigmatic form exudes familiarity. Comparisons to the natural world are often made with Oliver's sculptures, yet Oliver was never interested in the observation of nature despite the many parallels between her sculptures and various creatures and natural objects.1 Rather, her primary concern was in the structure of materials and the idea of a sculpture taking on its own life. 'I am trying to create life. Not in the sense of beings, or animals, or plants, or machines, but "life" in the sense of a kind of force, a presence, an energy in my objects that human beings can respond to on the level of soul or spirit.'2 This presence is embodied in Bloom through the delicate strands that entwine and expand outwards like a tree searching to lengthen its branches, and the subtle nuances of sexual symbolism which is often inherent in Oliver's works. Here, the seductive gape that leads from the top of the sculpture to the centre exudes a quiet sensual energy.

Bloom is an ethereal example of Oliver's flawlessly constructed forms that gracefully balance light, shadow and depth. The sheer beauty of her sculptures often disguise the time consuming and extremely laborious process of Oliver's meticulous craftsmanship that sets her apart from anyone else. As discussed by Hannah Fink in her introduction for Bronwyn Oliver's exhibition at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in July 2006, 'Bronwyn was modest yet utterly sure of her vision, secure in the confidence of her originality. Her art was fully resolved - perfect, really - and she stands alone in the annals of Australian art history. There was no-one like her: she invented her own deeply intelligent form, and entered fully into the world that it opened out to her.'3

1. Sturgeon, G., Contemporary Australian sculpture, Craftsman House, Sydney, 1991, p. 72
2. Oliver, B., quoted in Sturgeon, ibid., p. 71
3. Bronwyn Oliver 2006, 10 July 2006,, viewed 23 September 2014