Forgotten Murals II: Art Casualty of Built History

Following on from Forgotten Murals of the Adelaide Children’s Hospital (2018), this exhibition sketches the life story of another significant large-scale artwork to emerge from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital archives.

The mural relief was designed by architect Reginald Steele for the General Purposes Building at the old Children’s Hospital. Prominently occupying the building’s upper southern façade, it watched over the entrance to the Casualty Department. Measuring 78 by 14 feet and cast in concrete with raised abstract motifs, the Modernist artwork attracted mild disapproval upon its public debut in December 1962.

The artwork led a chequered life – or lives. Surviving one demolition in 1976, its second life was a much reduced, semi-subterranean existence. Ahead of a major site redevelopment to accommodate the Queen Victoria Hospital on the North Adelaide site, a second target was placed on its back. In 1992 the wrecking ball swung again. The downfall was total. The mural became a footnote of art history: an art casualty of built history.

With appreciation among Adelaideans for local Modernist design at a retrospective high, Forgotten Murals II reappraises Steele’s bold creation – an intriguing Arts-in-Health offering for the Hospital’s child patients and maintenance workers.

Read the Curator’s essay here: Forgotten Murals II: Art Casualty of Built History – Curator Essay.

View the exhibition brochure here: Forgotten Murals II: Art Casualty of Built History – Exhibition Catalogue.


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