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Bond commissions sculpture to celebrate 30th Anniversary

August 21, 2018

Sculptor Ian Haggerty with one of his works

There is a commonality between Bond University and the artistic career of Ian Haggerty, whose next major sculpture will take pride of place beneath Bond’s landmark arch. Both started small and evolved into something world-class.

While Bond began with a modest cohort of 322 students in May 1989, Mr Haggerty honed his craft on intricate 5cm military figurines, an interest that reflected five-and-a-half years spent in an Irish tank regiment of the British Army.

The Edinburgh-born sculptor had always enjoyed creating model railways, tanks and aircraft but didn’t realise he had artistic flair until he started painting the award-winning military figurines which he went on to exhibit throughout Europe and North America.

“I tried to sculpt them out of resin with toothpicks and I realised my sculpting skills weren’t very good so I went to do some clay lessons. As soon as I touched clay I didn’t want to do anything else,” Mr Haggerty said.

“I suddenly realised I could put together a figure in a couple of hours whereas in resin it would take me nine months. So I managed to hone my skillset a lot more quickly.”

It was after moving to the Gold Coast in 2003 that the sculptor began to dramatically scale up his creations while still maintaining the painstaking attention to detail that distinguished his finger-sized works.

“I noticed the Swell Sculpture Festival had just started and I wanted to do something I could exhibit there, so I did a sea lion and pup,” Mr Haggerty said.

That bronze artwork led to a commission and he has exhibited at the Currumbin Beach event four times.

Mr Haggerty works in a variety of mediums including steel, slump glass, bronze, concrete and clay and has been commissioned by public and private clients throughout Australia and the world.

“I do major commissions every three years,” he said. “I don’t do it because I want the money, I do it because I love doing it and I want to leave a legacy behind.”

Part of that legacy will go on display at Bond University which has commissioned Mr Haggerty to create a large sculpture to mark the 30th anniversary of the University’s founding.

“The Bond work will be in marine grade stainless steel. It will be a very striking sculpture and the reason for that is the high reflection that we’re looking for,” the artist said.

“I want to capture the essence of the university and the concept of ‘no limits’.

It’s going to be a very tall sculpture - reaching for the sky.”

Like Bond, Mr Haggerty has an entrepreneurial flair in his DNA.

“After the army I moved to England, started a business there, built it up and sold it after 10 years, moved to Canada, started a business there, sold it after 10 years, and then moved to Australia and did the same thing here,” he said.

“These days I do mergers and acquisitions. I’m a business advisor.

“Sculpting is my outlet. It’s what I do for fun.”

Mr Haggerty has already drawn inspiration from Bond, where his youngest son and future daughter-in-law studied.

“When I attended my son’s graduation, even though I left school at 15-and-a-half years old, I became inspired,” he said.

“I did a distance MBA at the age of 58. I believe I represent the physical side of the (Bond artwork). Education is opportunity that has no age, gender, ability or time constraints.” 

The Bond sculpture, with the working title of ‘No Limits’, will take several months to complete in conjunction with a master welder. It will be among lofty company when it is unveiled at the Robina campus during Homecoming festivities in May 2019.

The University’s collection includes several sculptures by the late Robert Klippel, who is regarded as Australia’s greatest sculptor, in addition to the iconic works of Anthony Prior that adorn the University’s central walkway.