01 April 2007

Burns Place Fountain Scoop

Scoop - From Sharyn Walker.

"I grew up in the Gosford Shire/City. My home, schooling and social life all revolved around Gosford – mainly the ‘Peninsula’ in my primary school-aged life. As an adult and since turning an age where reminiscence and memory rears, I am observing change to places where I spent many childhood hours.

My childhood home is now a car park to a nursing home. This change occurred about three or four years ago. That’s okay, maybe that is where I will spend my twilight years.

The buildings where I attended primary school, St. John the Baptist, Woy Woy, were abandoned and classes moved, in 1979, to more salubrious grounds. This too was okay, as I had also abandoned primary classes to attend high school. Subsequently, the buildings were utilised for community college classes.

About two years ago, I was anguished to observe the felling of two of the school ground’s favoured trees. And later the demolition of the whole school – those classic, old buildings.

Photo taken by “Spike”, editor of http://thisisntsydney.blogspot.com/ a very
interesting read.

As for “Gosford”, I have one Gosford, which exists in my 2007 reality, and another Gosford, which exists, in my nostalgic, indulgent memory.

Which brings me to the Rotary Fountain where the two Gosfords intersect.

Copyright Gosford & District in Pictures

From 1979 to 1982 the Rotary Fountain, Gosford, featured in my life, as a daily meeting place and hangout, just briefly, while awaiting the bus/train to take me to school or home. Teen-hood observation is not much externalised, and if anything, I thought the fountain to be mossy and ugly. It is only in recent years, maybe since the loss of fountain water, and maybe since the removal of the scoop, that I have come to appreciate the artistic value and history of the fountain.

In November, 2006, I asked Gosford Council’s Officer for Parks and Waterways what had become of what I have dubbed "the scoop". Bryce Cameron responded:

'At present Council is consulting with the sculptor & foundries to reproduce the scoop. Initially for approval to go ahead and also for prices. We will then have to apply for funds to undertake the works.'

This job has been delegated to Charlie Trivers, Collection and Exhibitions Officer, Gosford Regional Gallery.

A brief history: In the early 1960s Gosford Rotary commissioned the fountain as a memorial to all who had fought for peace. Sculptor Gerald Lewers was invited to create and install the fountain and his wife, painter Margo Lewers, was invited to design the pool and wall mosaic. Before work on the fountain commenced, Gerald died following a fall from his horse. Margo and their daughter, jeweller and silversmith, Darani, carried on the project to its completion.

When asked what inspired the unusual design Ms Darani Lewers states:

'Gerald made a series of public fountains in the 1950s. A feature of his work was an interest in using water to complete the fountains as sculpture in motion.

The mosaics are an extension of Margo Lewers's painting. Initially she created a series of wall and floor mosaics for the family home. They formed the basis for the commissioned work such as the Rotary Fountain.

Several of Gerald Lewers’s small fountains can be seen
at the Penrith Regional Gallery and Lewers Bequest,
originally the artists’ home, at Emu Plains.

Ms Lewers remembers well the Rotary Fountain and was keenly disappointed to hear of the recent vandalism. Charlie Trivers has contacted Ms Lewers to seek advice on the restoration of the 'scoop'.

She fears that much of society today does not sufficiently value public art and that we are losing our cultural past. 'This fountain is a part of our heritage and we need to draw on the collective memory while it still exists'.

It is promising that Council is taking the restoration of the fountain 'scoop' seriously and that work is under way to seek quotes from a “reputable conservator”. Charlie Trivers wrote in February 2007:

"We have received a quote from a reputable conservator for the fountains repair to the copperwork of the fountain. We also have to consider making the work more vandal proof without detracting from the integrity of the work."

Ms Darani Lewers hopes the work will be undertaken by the original craftpersons, the coppersmiths Wardrobe & Carroll of Alexandria, Sydney.

A more recent email from Mr Trivers states:

“Due to the recent water shortages the council has turned off all fountains in the Gosford area.
With appropriate water use being a huge issue at the moment the fountains priority is not as great as it has been.”

He does assure me, however, that his manager will allocate the funds in the next financial year for the restoration (2007/08).

Although the flow of water does complete the overall sculptural form of the fountain, should the absence of water lessen the priority of the restoration process?

While Gosford Vision 2025 Strategic Plan promotes the future enhancement of performative and visual art in the area, let’s hope that it is not at the expense of our historically important art icons."

Sharyn Walker.

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