Archibald Memorial Fountain drawn from ancient Greek mythology gets a refresh

Archibald Fountain 1932 Francois Sicard - photo Jamie Williams for City of Sydney

Hyde Park’s Archibald Memorial Fountain has been restored to operational capacity following extensive remediation and conservation works overseen by the City of Sydney.

Restoration works undertaken on the fountain included structural, hydraulic, electrical and mechanical upgrades. The City of Sydney also introduced water-saving measures to minimise water loss and prevent damage to underground pipes and pumps

Designed by French sculptor Francois Sicard, the Greek esque fountain is a war memorial originally created to commemorate the alliance forged by Australia and France in the first world war. The fountain was gifted to the city by J.F. Archibald, the celebrated Australian journalist.

“The Archibald Fountain is one of Sydney’s most photographed landmarks, and is a nationally significant sculpture,” says Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

“Families, friends and visitors enjoy meeting at the Archibald Fountain under the shade of tree canopy in Hyde Park, as a quiet respite from the city.

“While the fountain was commissioned to honour an association forged through war, the sculptor made peace the theme of this work, a message that remains as poignant today as it was a century ago.

“The new public art we create in Sydney is essential and exciting, like the stunning sculpture bara near the Opera House, but it’s also important we restore historical pieces so future generations can enjoy the city’s many layers of history.”

Spanning 18 metres in diameter, a bronze Apollo sits in the fountain’s centre, with Diana, Pan and the Minotaur also depicted in the work. Water that spurts in the shape of an arch depict the rising sun, with water spouting from horses’ heads, while tortoises and dolphins direct jets of water toward the centre. 

A lighting layout designed in the 1960s by Robert Woodward has been uncovered during the work and has been newly implemented by the City of Sydney.

The fountain is now operational in Hyde Park. For more information click here

History of the Archibald Fountain

The Archibald Memorial Fountain is an iconic landmark in Sydney's Hyde Park. It was created by French sculptor François-Léon Sicard, following a bequest from its namesake Jules François Archibald. The memorial is located in Hyde Park north, at the centre of Birubi Circle, and at the intersection of the main avenues crossing Hyde Park. It is surrounded by grassed areas and park benches, making it a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to take photographs, or simply sit and enjoy the space. The fountain is accessible from Elizabeth Street, St James Road or College Street.

The fountain commemorates the association between Australia and France in World War 1. It draws its themes from Greek antiquity and is an important example in Sydney of the classical revivalist sculpture of the 1920s and 1930s, known as art deco.

The fountain is approximately 18m in diameter and is in the shape of a hexagon. The artist, Sicard chose a mythical theme to express his message through the medium of a fountain. A bronze Apollo, the central raised figure standing approximately 6m high on a central pedestal, dominates the other mythical figures of Diana, Pan and the Minotaur. Behind Apollo, a large arch of fine spray represents the rising sun and accentuates his dominant position. At Apollo’s feet, water sprays from horses’ heads into a series of 3 basins. Tortoises in the large hexagonal basin, and dolphins in the middle one, direct jets of water towards the centre.

Although commissioned to honour the association forged in war, the work was also to look forward to peace and Sicard allowed the peace theme to dominate.

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