Nike in Wollongong

The goddess, that is, not the shoe. She even has a website!

Nike was depicted in ancient Greek vase painting with a variety of attributes including a wreath or sash to crown a victor, an oinochoe and phiale (bowl and cup) for libations, a thymiaterion (incense burner), an altar, and a lyre for the celebration of victory in song.

In scenes of the Gigantomachia (War of the Giants) she often appears driving the chariot of Zeus. In mosaic art and coins Nike is often shown holding a palm branch as a symbol of victory.


In Wollongong she appears in MacCabe Park, looking a tad unloved.



Nike was presented to the people of Wollongong on 2nd June 1980 by the steel industry which has been an integral part of that city’s economy for over one hundred years.

This work by senior Australian sculptor Ken Unsworth, is named after the Greek God of Victory and reflects her energy and poise. It was the winning entry in a completion calling for a work that acknowledged the Illawarra steel industry. The work, 25 tonnes of mild steel, was fabricated by local tradespeople in local workshops.

Ken Unsworth “has become one of Australia’s most significant contemporary artists.”  I remember being intrigued by his Suspended stone circle II at the Art Gallery of NSW.

Ken Unsworth came to prominence as a sculptor in the 1970s, when he combined performance or body art with highly conceptual sculptural forms. Some of these performances, in particular ‘Five secular settings for sculpture as ritual’, involved using his own body as a kind of minimalist sculpture. In one, he posed spread-eagle on the wall, held aloft by a pole between his shoulder blades in a visual recreation of Richard Serra’s lead prop piece now held in the National Gallery of Australia collection in Canberra…


from ‘Five secular settings for sculpture as ritual’ 1975


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