The Genie, Sculptor Tom Bass; founder F.J. & I. Lemon, Bronze sculpture, 1973, Queen Victoria Gardens
Location: Queen Victoria Gardens
Bronze figure on a bronze plinth that combines the features and characteristics of an Egyptian cat and a lion with a triangular face and pointed ears. The back section of the sculpture is flat to encourage play.
Tom Bass was born in Lithgow, NSW, in 1916. After a hiatus in his studies during World War Two, he graduated from the National Art School in 1948. Bass gained inspiration for his work from his extensive travels, which is apparent in The Genie. One of Australia’s leading sculptors, Bass has created some of the country’s most significant works, such as the entrance sculpture at Canberra’s National Library, Trial of Socrates at the University of Melbourne’s Wilson Hall and Ethos in Canberra’s Civic Square.
In 1971, sculptor Peter Corlett presented the concept of a children’s play sculpture to Melbourne City Council. The commission for this sculpture went to Bass. The Genie’s design is a synthesis of Western and Eastern art forms, and combines the characteristics of an Egyptian cat with a lion. It was designed to complement its natural surroundings, while still being able to attract the attention of children. Its form and textured surface are intended to encourage play and to extend children’s experience of art by inviting direct physical contact. In part, its inscription reads: ‘The Genie / A fantasy play sculpture / for children’.