Connie Kimberley Sculpture Park and Tony & Cathie Hancy Sculpture Plaza
While dedicating their lives to fostering Australian art, Heide’s founders John and Sunday Reed also devoted themselves to the cultivation of their fifteen-acre property, which they hoped would one day become public gardens. Their efforts came to fruition with the establishment of Heide as a public park and art museum in 1981. The development of the grounds as a sculpture park was given priority in the museum’s early years, and today Heide offers a variety of outdoor spaces for visitors’ enjoyment, respite and individual reflection.
Inaugural director Maudie Palmer took inspiration from international sculpture parks, including the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, The Netherlands, Storm King State Park, New Windsor, New York; and the gardens of the Maeght Foundation in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France. Two outdoor works placed within the Heide gardens by John and Sunday Reed in 1981 provided a starting point: Ron Upton's Three Forms (1964) and David Tolley's Man/Woman (c.1966). The park has since been brought alive by the placement of more than thirty-five permanent sculptures across the site, and a range of temporary exhibitions and artworks.
The focus is sculpture by Australian artists with the selective inclusion of international works, including Anish Kapoor’s In the Presence of Form II and Untitled and Dennis Oppenheim’s Maquette for Basket and Wave (From Dreams and Nightmares. Journey of a Broken Weave), commissioned in 1984. The support of donors, patrons and artists has enabled the development of a fine collection, including sculptures such as Mary Magdelene, 1978–83, by Melbourne artist George Baldessin and Rick Amor’s Running Man, 1996–2003, and the long-term loan of significant sculptures by contemporary artists Hany Armanious and Simryn Gill. The park has stimulated artists to create temporary site-specific projects and some enduring works, such as Lauren Berkowitz’s Karakarook’s Garden, 2005–06, Stein Path, 1999–2000, by Janet Burchill, and a native rockery garden with espaliered eucalypts commissioned from Fiona Hall in 2009.
Since its completion in 2006 the monumental Rings of Saturn by Inge King has become both a distinctive landmark at Heide and one of Melbourne’s most recognisable public sculptures. At once powerful and lyrical, the work is prominently sited on the brow of a hill overlooking the river and the museum’s forecourt, creating a striking silhouette on the skyline.
The most recent commission is Emily Floyd’s colourful, multi-part sculpture Abstract Labour, 2014, set against the black museum façade on the Tony & Cathie Hancy Sculpture Plaza. It takes inspiration from the relationship between sculptural abstraction and urban adventure playgrounds. On regular occasions it also functions as a temporary outdoor library, with books on the shelves of the sculptures available for visitors to read, borrow and exchange.