121 Baylis Street, Wagga Wagga
Public Art Audio Trail
Episode 10: Victor, Donna, Mary and Muuj & The Forest Seat
Audio visual description - Mary and Muuj:
Acknowledgement spoken by Bernard Higgins.
Narration, content and interview by Ashleigh Adams.
Sound and music by Sam Webber Sound.
Episode 10: Victor, Donna, Mary and Muuj & The Forest Seat
Walking along Baylis Street, you might notice some rather interesting characters dotted amongst everyday shoppers. These sculptures are the work of artist Mary Perrot Stimson. Commissioned in 1999, these figures represent some of the people that the artist observed and sketched one day on Baylis Street.
Stimson’s interest in figurative sculpture saw her sketches of this day brought to life in three dimensional drawings cast in bronze. In an ode to these sketches, the sculptures have remained flat, almost like they have been peeled off the pages of Stimson’s sketchbook and erected like paper dolls along the street.
In 2000, Wagga Wagga City Council held a competition for the community to name Stimson’s sculptures. There are three figures you will encounter on Baylis Street; Mary and Muuj, Donna, and Victor.
When approaching from the Northern end of Baylis Street we first encounter a young lady walking with her cocker spaniel alongside her. Mary sports a belted jacket and a skirt for her stroll in the sunshine with her dog Muuj. During her time observing the passers by on Baylis Street, Stimson observed a group of young friends talking animatedly, providing the inspiration for Mary. The naming competition resulted in Mary’s dog being named Muuj, which is a Wiradyuri word meaning ‘friend’.
As we pass Mary and Muuj and continue across to the other side of the street we meet Donna, a warm friendly face with a sixties flick hairstyle, sporting a fun floral skirt and facing passers-by front-on with an approachable smile. Donna was given her name due to her proximity to a shop called Don Tuckwell’s Audio, a long-standing Wagga business which has since moved to a new location.
Keep an eye out for Victor at the southern end of Baylis street Victor was given his name due to his location near the Victoria Hotel. His tall thin frame stands in a comfortable lean with his hands resting in his pockets. He looks to the row of shopfronts ahead of him almost as if he is waiting for someone he knows to emerge from one of them.
This block where Victor stands is also home to another public artwork titled Forrest Seat, by artist Simon Lloyd.
Nestled into the hustle and bustle of busy Baylis Street, this calm little pocket of tree-like poles surround a quiet bench that invites us to sit, rest, and observe the world as it rushes past us.
This work was inspired by the cypress pine forests near Coolamon, where Lloyd encountered rusted metal objects that had been discarded in nature. The bench that was originally installed at the centre of this work represented this industrial debris, it has since been replaced with the bench we see here now.
The poles stand five meters tall and are sealed on top with metal caps. The pavement underneath the seat is the colour of red ochre, representing the distinct colour of Riverina soil. Lloyd describes this work as an abstract representation of nature, like a little slice of forest that has been transplanted here, in the heart of the city.
Why not take a minute to sit on the bench and enjoy gazing up into the leafy canopy above? By immersing yourself in the forest seat, you might find that the noises of the street start to fade and make way for the sounds of nearby birds and rustling branches.
Donna is a tall two-dimensional bronze sculpture statue of a lady standing on the street. She is facing us front-on. She has only a front and back with no side profile. She is leaning slightly to the left and both of her arms are sitting flat against her sides. The sculpture is wide at the base and gradually gets narrower at the top, her shoulders, neck and head are a lot smaller than the rest of her body. Her hair falls just above her shoulders and kicks out at the sides. She is wearing a long button-down top with two pockets at hip height. She is also wearing a flowy ankle-length skirt that is covered in a small abstract pattern. She is wearing closed-toe heels with her feet positioned at a 45-degree angle from each other. She has a pleasant expression and is smiling with her mouth closed.
Explore the Trail
This artwork is a part of the Public Art Audio Trail, follow the link below to see all the artworks on the trail.
About the Artwork
Mary and Muuj is a popular sculpture representing a girl walking her dog.
In 1999 Wagga Wagga City Council commissioned Wantabadgery based artist Mary Perrott Stimson to create three bas relief bronze sculptures. Stimson spent a day on Baylis Street sketching the parade of characters that walked by. The sculpture of Mary and Muuj came from a group of young people Stimson spotted talking on the street in an animated manner. In 2000, Council held a community competition to name the art works. Muuj (pronounced ‘mooj’) is a Wiradjuri word meaning ‘friend’.
Mary Perrott Stimson has produced numerous public artworks around Australia and internationally, including murals for London Hospital and bronze sculptures for the City of Richmond, Victoria. She was born in Norfolk, United Kingdom and studied at the Chelsea College of Art and then the Chisholm Institute of Technology and University of Melbourne. Her inspiration comes especially from Egyptian, Etruscan, Roman, Medieval and Papua New Guinea bas-relief work, often centred on portraiture and archetypal imagery. From her studies, Stimson was obsessed with figurative sculpture, a contrast to the increasingly abstract world. Her double-sided bas relief style created figures that were flattish, but still three dimensional. Stimson said “They are actually drawings – three dimensional drawings made of bronze.”