Public Artwork – Ken Lum – St John’s Gardens

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The full title of this installation by Ken Lum is ‘Monument To The Napoleonic Soldiers and Other Things In Common’. It is best visited as a couple or small group because if you are on the top level you need to be able to view the people below and vice versa. We didn’t realise this at first, we approached it from the Queens Sq side of the gardens and entered via some steps leading up to the top level and were disappointed to see there were just 3 cylinders with glass tops through which you could see the ground below, not very interesting.

But then as I was looking down a stranger appeared below me. I was peering at the top of a woman’s head. It was a bit unsettling because it felt a bit voyeuristic and I couldn’t work out how she had got in there. Eventually she looked up and we gave a nervous wave to each other. What to do now? Do I keep looking down at this stranger, does she dare to look up again to see if I’m still there?

So we discover that the entrance to the ground level is on the Wm Brown Street side and enter to find the 3 cylinders are facing each other and are transparent so as well as being observed from above we can see the people in the other chambers. Then me and Minako had some fun swapping places and taking pictures of each other.

Its not as interesting as it sounds in the blurb which infers that the lower level actually goes below ground and as this was once a graveyard containing some 27,000 bodies that would be a bit spooky but as far as I can tell this is just the everyday tarmac surface that’s always there.