Colour & Controversy

For 125 years Adelaide's public artworks have enriched and enlived our streetscape. But as is often the case with art, many of these pieces inspired fierce debate over their merits and morals when first installed.

From the first controversial installation of a public artwork in Adelaide in 1892 to those that caused people to ask “What is art?” more than 100 years later, this trail visits the monuments, murals and sculptures gracing our city spaces.

City Sign Sculpture Garden

This is one of the most controversial artworks in the Adelaide Festival Centre precinct. A colourful, geometric and interactive installation, it adorns the plaza at the Festival Centre’s southern entrance. The space is commonly known as Hajek’s Plaza…

Venus: A Victorian scandal

Venere di Canova, or Venus as she is known, was the first public artwork to be erected in the city. It is a direct copy of a work by the 18th-century Italian sculptor Antonio Canova. (The title Venere di Canova means “Canova’s Venus”). The statue is…

National War Memorial

A city memorial to those who fought in the First World War was first discussed in 1919. Architecture firm Woods, Bagot, Jory and Laybourne Smith won a competition with their design, The Spirit of Sacrifice. The firm worked with Sydney sculptor Rayner…

Statue of Robert Burns

This statue of the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns is evidence of South Australia’s strong ties to Scotland. As early as 1838, Scottish migrants in South Australia were meeting and in 1881 they founded the Caledonian Society of South…

'Untitled': A controversial piece

American artist Donald Judd’s installation Untitled is a clear example of the challenging nature of much contemporary art. A grey, discoloured mould of a triangle in reinforced concrete, it is stark, bold and minimalist. It was commissioned by the…

Spheres: The Malls Balls

Along with the bronze pigs, Rundle Mall is defined by Bert Flugelman’s larger than life steel sculpture 'Spheres'. The Hindmarsh Building Society donated it in 1977 to the City of Adelaide to mark the society’s centenary. Originally dubbed 'On…

Playspace

Hindmarsh Square's 'Playspace' is a series of large scale artworks made from fibreglass reinforced concrete, that blurs the line between art and public park space. With contributions by artists including Ryan Sims, Andrew Stock, Gerry…

Daubist mural no. 1

This mural is the result of four artists, 14 years and one controversial art movement. It first came to life in 1984 through the work of artists Carol Ruff and Barbary O’Brien. The scene showed an old man and a child on a bicycle, expressing the ties…