30 November 2023

What the centenary sculpture means to me

What the centenary sculpture means to me
What the centenary sculpture means to me
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To conclude a magnificent year of celebrations, on a sunny Monday afternoon in November, we officially unveiled our centenary sculpture, Learning to Fly, and held a thank-you event for the many people in our community who contributed to our major centenary events.

As part of this event, we unveiled a plaque commemorating the centenary, the sculpture and the Old Carey Grammarians Association’s support in bringing the sculpture to the Carey community. Read more about the sculpture and artist, Alexander Knox, here.

In particular, we would like to sincerely thank for the final time our many sponsors, without whom we would not have been able to provide such a spectacular centenary celebration. Thank you to our Centenary Partners, ANZ, Bob Stewart and Moores, and to our Major Event Sponsors, Community Sponsors and Fair Sponsors – you can see a full list here.

To read a centenary wrap-up and watch a highlights reel from throughout the year, check out this article.

In the lead-up to the unveiling, we spoke to our Art and Design Captains, Pepa and Laura, and Leader of Learning – Art and Design, Simon Carver, about what the sculpture means to them.

Laura, Simon and Pepa with the sculpture
Laura, Simon and Pepa with the sculpture
Principal Jonathan Walter thanks artist Alexander Knox at the unveiling
Principal Jonathan Walter thanks artist Alexander Knox at the unveiling

What were your first impressions of the sculpture?

Simon: My first impression of the sculpture was sheer joy and wonder at the whimsical symbolism. I think the sculpture really encapsulates a lot of what the title says, learning to fly, and what we are working with in an abstract colourful manner with both the yellow background as well as with the birds that are flying around it.

Pepa: I initially thought that it had a very optimistic and uplifting vibe. The first time I saw it I was walking to school and I was like ‘wow!’

Laura: It’s very bright and refreshing. The nice yellow colour is very significant not only of Carey’s themes and values but it’s also a nice representation of the welcoming energy and aura that you see when walking into Carey.

What do you think the different elements mean and how relevant is its title?

L: Even though a lot of the birds are depicted in different colours and there’s lots of different individuality and uniqueness between each bird and each student at Carey, it represents how we are all so individual but how we can still connect with each other. The birds all look like they’re about to take off which is very relatable for us Year 12 students thinking about how we’re about to take off from school and that’s been really cultivated and supported throughout our journey at Carey.

P: Yes I think the birds definitely represent individuality as well as diversity within the School, but I think the idea that the birds are all positioned in different ways and doing different things but they’re all on the same structure, that symbolises the School and that we’re all being taught in a nurturing and loving way that highlights the school values of care, respect and growth, but that we’re all going in the same direction - we’re all trying to be launched in to life.

L: I think the name of the piece is very representative and symbolic of Carey as a whole and how for many people and students, it’s a wonderful starting place. It symbolises how Carey as a school is a great launching pad for many of us to learn all together and start a new journey of life together.

How do you think the sculpture fits with its physical landscape and at Carey more broadly?

S: The artwork is very sensitive to its location and was created to have different vistas. It’s in front of the art and design building and sits in front of the Carey Gallery where there is a very large viewing window, it’s one of the first things you see both from walking in from outside the School and from walking in about out of the art building and it also sits next to the William Carey Chapel so it has a significant place in its function as a public artwork in this area of the School.

P: I think with the physical landscape, it also presents the historical side of it with the past, present and future. Laura and I have been at Carey since Prep so we’ve been discussing how it’s very representative and symbolic of our journey through Carey too.

How do you think the sculpture celebrates or commemorates our centenary and how do you think it will remain relevant over the next 100 years?

L: I think again playing into the past, present and future, this piece reflects not only on how Carey has been able to create such an uplifting environment of belonging, culture and connection, but it also represents the future and how Carey is continuing to be a great launching pad for a lot of individuals.

P: Yes and the centenary is such a symbolic year and being able to have such a different type of structure and artwork in the School just creates this sense of hope for the future, a sense of ‘Oh this is our centenary year and we have so many centenaries to come.

S: The sculpture has a number of components to it; the central abstract yellow looks at our torchbearer; the birds around the sculpture are an interplay around the diversity of our School, diversity of students, diversity of learning opportunities, and there is a symbolic understanding of this interplay between the abstract sculpture and also the birds working together. So I think it’s quite monumental and very exciting. I think one of the core principles or core values of why we chose this artist and artwork is that the sculpture is very didactic, so the sculpture has enough ambiguity as well as enough symbology to be very relevant now and to be relevant as the School progresses and changes.

To read more about Alexander Knox and his other works click here and for more information on ‘Learning to Fly’, including a beautiful video of the sculpture click here.

Emma Young, Communications Advisor
Community Engagement


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