National Gallery announces major sculpture garden commission by Lindy Lee.

Lindy Lee will look to the stars to create her most significant work to date, an immersive, public sculpture, the Ouroboros, for the National Gallery of Australia’s 40th anniversary.  

"This commission represents a defining moment in our history and aligns with our mission to reflect and respond to contemporary Australia.” —Nick Mitzevich

 Constructed from mirror polished stainless steel, standing at around four metres high and weighing approximately 13 tonnes, it will be the largest acquisition in the Gallery's 40-year history and one of the most significant public art commissions ever in Australia. Funded through the National Gallery’s Collection Development Fund, it will also be one of Australia's first sustainable works of public art, incorporating recycled materials and maximising renewable energy.


Lindy Lee | Ouroboros from Sullivan + Strumpf on Vimeo.

"The Ouroboros is symbolic of repetition and renewal, of the abundance of cyclical time, eternal flow, unity of the beginning and the end, transformation and alchemy.” —Lindy Lee

lindy lee ouroboros National Gallery of Australia 

Lee says that “During the day [the sculpture's] highly polished mirror surface will reflect the imagery of the floating world. The transience of passers-by, cars, birds in flight and stunning clouds. And at night the Ouroboros will be lit internally, returning its light to the world – a dance between something that is solid and something that is just drifting off into stardust.”

Based on the ancient symbol of a snake eating its tail, the Ouroboros will anchor a new public gateway for visitors to the National Gallery. Visitors will be able enter the ‘mouth’ and walk into the curved space to experience darkness that is illuminated by light beams emanating from the hundreds of thousands of perforations on its surface. 

lindy lee ouroboros National Gallery of Australia artist impression 6


The proposed work will feature at the National Gallery’s main entrance, at the corner of King Edward Terrace and Parkes Place East in the Canberra suburb of Parkes, and will be accessible day and night.  It will be the first commission for the National Gallery’s Sculpture Garden since the opening of James Turrell’s Skyspace Within without in 2010 and forms part of the National Gallery’s plan to renew the gardens, which were established 40 years ago.

This project will be a collaboration between Lindy Lee, Urban Art Projects and Sullivan+Strumpf. The next milestone for the project is seeking National Capital Authority approval for the works, which will begin this month. The work is due to be completed in early 2024.