Her life may have ended eleven years ago at the age of only 47, but sculptor Bronwyn Oliver remains a major presence through her extraordinary creative output. Her life and her work have been splendidly memorialised by her biographer Hannah Fink in the recently published Bronwyn Oliver: Strange Things (Piper Press). Born in 1959 in Gum Flat, west of Inverell, NSW, Bronwyn went straight to art school in Sydney at what is now UNSW College of Fine Arts. Winning a Travelling Art Scholarship, she completed a master’s degree at Chelsea School of Art in 1984. On her return to Sydney, she enjoyed further success and recognition, including the Moët & Chandon Fellowship, and was taken up by gallery owner, Roslyn Oxley.
While others followed paths to installation art, Bronwyn Oliver worked within the traditional discipline of sculpture, primarily in metal. Hannah Fink identifies over 290 works produced by Oliver in her 22 year career. Many were major commissions including Big Feathers (1999) for the Queen Street Mall, Brisbane, Palm (1999) for Sydney Botanic Gardens, the three metres high Globe (2002) for UNSW, and most astounding of all, Vine (2005) at 16.5 metres high in the Sydney Hilton which took 12 months and a budget of half a million dollars to create. Many of her works are engineering marvels which are also intriguing, intelligent and beautiful. Hannah Fink and Piper Press have produced a book that is also intriguing, intelligent and beautiful; indeed a worthy tribute.