Public Art in the Royal Botanic Gardens

Exploring the Public Art in the Royal Botanic Gardens

A few months ago, my office relocated just a block from the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens, and since then, I have spent many lunch hours strolling around the garden rediscovering how beautiful it is.  Along with all the trees and flowers and stunning harbour vistas, there are 55 sculptures scattered around the garden. Some much of Sydney’s public art in one place.  Over the last few weeks, I have tried to photograph my favourites, and today for your viewing pleasure are my top five.

A Folly for Mrs Macquarie by Fiona Hall

Fiona Hall metalwork scupture Botanic Gardens
Fiona Hall – A Folly for Mrs Macquarie

Sitting high on the path above the Opera House garden entry, this sculpture by Fiona Hall is my favourite in the garden.  Along with Mrs Macquarie’s Chair just a little further along the path, the site may have been the place that Governor Macquarie’s wife Elizabeth passed the time overlooking the harbour.  The sculpture depicts the family crest, bones of animals who once roamed the area and Norfolk Pine fronds.


Boy Extracting a Thorn – Sculptor: Unknown

Boy Extracting a thorn

This sculpture dates to 1883This marble statue is a replica of the bronze sculpture The Spinarius and was imported from Rome in 1883. The original sculpture is at Palazzo dei Conservatori in Rome. The boy was said to have been a messenger who delivered an important message to the Senate in ancient Greece. There are several copies around the world including one in the Uffizi in Florence and one at Metropolitan Museum of Art inNew York.

You will find the statue on a path that winds down to the water. Directly in front of this is a bed of beautiful red calla lilies and the Opera House.  It’s a beautiful shot.

Palm by Bronwyn Oliver

The Seed
Palm – by Bronwyn Oliver

This metal sculpture is also a favourite.  This “seed”  a copper sculpture shows folded palm fronds and sits near the main pond. There is a second seed nearby.

Before European settlement, this foreshore was a mud flat. Seeds and flotsam were washed up by the waves. Ships arrived on the tide in 1788 and crops were planted nearby soon afterwards. This area has been dedicated ever since to the introduction and propagation of plants reflecting the changing cultural and horticultural needs of the day. This sculpture is intended to symbolise an elemental form washed up by the tide, blown by the wind, eroded by water and laden with the potential for vigour and transformation. It began with the form of the palm above.

Herb Garden Sundial by John Ward and Margaret Folkard

Sundial Royal Botanic Garden
Designed by John Ward and Margaret Folkard (1994)

The Herb Garden itself is lovely. Located at the top of the Garden near Macquarie Street and the Palace Gate entrance it’s a beautiful spot to eat lunch or take some time out.

Sundail in the Royal Botanic Gardens

I love the detail on this sculpture in the Herb Garden.  The herbs depicted are planted in the surrounding beds.

 Memory is Creation without End by Kimio Tsuchiya

Memory is creation without end
Technically outside the grounds of the Botanic Gardens on Macquarie Street, this sculpture was created in 2000 and is part of the Sydney Sculpture walk. This area was originally a quarry, and these pieces of sandstone represent the work of the craftsmen of the time. The pieces are arranged in a spiral to symbolise the connection of past, present and future.

Have you visited the gardens?  Do you have a favourite?  I would love to hear which one.  Leave a comment below.

Want more?

You can download the sculpture map and hunt down your own favourite

For more public art in Sydney or around the world check out Public Art Around the World website

Share with a friend