With the recent death of Stephen Walker has lost its most celebrated artists. A sculptor of great technical talent, capable of casting monumental bronze works single handed in his studio. Over the sixty years or more Stephen studded the State with endless examples of his creative genius.
I first met Stephen during the years I ran the Harrington Street Gallery in Hobart, when his frequent visits often ended in long discussions on the state of current art practice in Australia. At the time I was conducting monthly reviews of our latest exhibitions of International Graphic Art. He would inevitably phone to make further points of view. Generally we were in agreement, his knowledge of art history and the legacy current practitioners owe to the past. During the 1950’s he had studied under Henry Moore and worked as his assistant were he had acquired an encyclopaedic knowledge of bronze casting. A practice that today so many young sculptors consider dated, yet bronze casting has been with us almost as long as humans attempted to record their three dimensional images.
Stephan Walker’s creative works covers most visual interpretations of the world around us from abstraction to figurative, using natural materials, or casting at his Native Corner Studio at Campania. Unfortunately I did not meet up with Stephen during his eighteen month say in Rome and Florence as it would have been a delight to walk around Rome examining Bernie’s bronzes. I suspect his experience of Rome’s massive public sculpture spurred him on to make such a contribution to Tasmania’s sculptural stocks.
The range of his imagery can be gaged by comparing his wooden work ‘The Antipodean Voyage’, a memorial fountain to the French Explorers in Hobart’s Botanical Gardens to ‘Tidal Pools’ a bronze sculpture now located at Lower Sandy Bay. Then there is the Abel Tasman Fountain in Salamanca Place a highly figurative work. Over the years Walker has endowed Tasmania with many fine bronze tributes to both the creatures of the sea and air living in the Southern Ocean. Some are located in very remote regions, the bronze ‘Whale’ at Cockle Creek stands looking out towards Antarctica. His legacy will live on for future generations to enjoy.