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Video clip synopsis – Australian sculptor Inge King has been producing striking steel monumental public sculpture for the past fifty years. She reminds us of the persistence and determination needed for any artist to succeed.
Year of production - 2009
Duration - 5min 0sec
Tags - Australian culture, art, artists, sculpture, women, see all tags

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Inge King Sculptor

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About the Video Clip

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Inge King Sculptor is an excerpt from the documentary A Thousand Different Angles, produced by Frontyard Films in 2009. Written and directed by Amanda King.

Background Information

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Inge King is one of Australia’s foremost sculptors. A vibrant and articulate woman, her monumental abstract sculpture graces many public buildings and plazas. Her work has always been on a grand scale. Her large public sculptures invite exploration – to walk through, slide down, sit on or just canoodle around. They tease our senses and provoke feelings of joy or revulsion in viewers and that pleases her.

Inge King was born in Berlin in 1918. She studied sculpture at the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts but was forced to flee Germany in 1939. She continued her studies in the UK and later married an Australian painter, Grahame King whom she met in an artists’ colony outside London.

King arrived in Melbourne in 1951 to find that modern sculpture did not exist. It was tough going at first, but this determined and talented woman managed to raise a young family and made strikingly bold modern jewellery to supplement the family income.

Welded steel became her medium in 1959, influenced by her engagement with Abstract Expressionism in New York where she attended Jackson Pollock’s first exhibition. In her studio in Warrandyte, on the outskirts of Melbourne, she began creating non-representational sculpture inspired by the Australian bush. A critic described these early black, weld-encrusted works as angst-ridden.

In 1971 King finally got her big break, with a large-scale, site-specific, public sculpture in Canberra when she won the commission to design the RAAF Memorial. Reaction was polarised and the critics were vocal – abstract sculpture was completely alien and puzzled them. Despite the outcry the tide was turning – modernist sculpture was finding acceptance and some recognition.

One of her most recognisable public sculptures is Forward Surge, a dramatic series of four wave-like structures which sits between the Victoria Arts Centre and the Concert Hall on St Kilda Road, Melbourne.
Inge’s sculpture contributed to the identity of modern art in Australia during the twentieth century. At the age of ninety she still works, has exhibitions and plays a pivotal role in the evolution, diversity and sophistication of Australia’s cultural identity.

Classroom Activities

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  1. Much of Inge King’s work is about the challenge of creating movement using static objects and setting that against different environments. Identify and discuss the ideas and concepts evident in both King’s pieces Forward Surge and Rings of Saturn, also drawing any similarities and differences between the two.
  2. Inge King’s works include the greatly varying Warsaw and Curious Angel created nearly fifty years apart. Carry out research into traditional bronze casting and modern bronze assemblage techniques in sculpture.
  3. Make a series of environmental drawings or collage or three dimensional models of the same object against an image of the Australian bush. The first drawing of the object or model should be the most detailed. In each of the following drawings/models, reduce the amount of detail so that you progress from highly descriptive to a more simple yet strong image/object.
  4. Use your drawings/models to create a series of metal sculptures. Consider using recycled materials from objects such as aluminium cans, cardboard rolls, wire, nuts, nails, screws or bolts. Include at least three different materials to create texture and interest within the piece.

Further Resources

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The Development of Australian Sculpture, Graeme Sturgeon, 1788–1975, Thames & Hudson, London, 1978
‘Inge King Sculptor’, Judith Trimble, An Art & Australia Book, Craftman House, Roseville East, NSW, 2069 1996; MacMillan 2009

Articles/catalogues
‘Fiver Berliners in Melbourne’ in Aspect, Jenny Zimmer Nos 29/30, Autumn 1984
‘Inge King: Subtle Changes 1983–1989’ in Art and Australia, Jenny Zimmer Vol 27, No. 3, Autumn 1990

Go to Inge King NGA
National Gallery of Victoria: Inge King’s Rings of Jupiter
Heidi Museum of Modern Art:
Australia Council, Emeritus Award 2009