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Ron Upton — Stages 1, 2 and 3

Ronald Upton first came to know the Reeds in rather curious circumstances through their adopted son Sweeny, who in 1967 opened The Strines Gallery in Carlton. The gallery’s inaugural show by Upton attracted and obscenity charge on the basis of exhibiting a sexually obscene drawing; luckily John Reed organised the defense for Ron and Sweeny, making it almost impossible for the magistrate to convict (Morgan & Harding, 2015).

Since the opening of the gallery, John and Sunday were actively collecting the works of several artists on Strine’s books and Upton was one of them, becoming a close friend of the Reeds from the mid-1960's. His large-scale ciment fondu sculptures later became permanent fixtures in the gardens at Hide (Morgan & Harding, 2015).

Stages 1, 2 and 3 consist of three abstract organic figures created from ciment fondu over a substructure of steel rods and chicken wire. The placement of the figures, both relative to each other and relative to the surroundings is critical (Heide Museum of Modern Art, n.d.). As we move between and around the figures we are invited to observe and appreciate the changing shapes and spatial relationships between the sculptures and their setting in natural landscape.

  • Ron Upton
  • Stages 1, 2 & 3, 1981
  • ferro cement 3 parts: 239 x 126 x 83 cm, 180 x 122 x 80 cm, 162 x 100 x 56 cm
  • Heide Museum of Modern Art Collection
  • Purchased 1996
  • Focus questions:
  • What is the first thing that you observe when you look at these sculptures?
  • Do they remind you of anything?
  • Touch their surface; how do they feel?
  • How would you describe them to a friend who is blind?
  • What meanings or messages do these sculptures convey to you?
  • What do you think the artist had to consider when these sculptures were placed in the natural landscape?
  • How do you think this sculpture will change with time?

 

References:

Harding, L., & Morgan, K. (2010). Sunday's Kitchen: Food and Living at Heide. Melbourne, Australia: The Miegunyah Press.

Heide Museum of Modern Art. (n.d.). Heide education resource: Heide sustainability art trail. Melbourne, Australia: Heide Museum of Modern Art.