My daily pleasure in life was walking past the Light Civic Park Fountain in Newcastle, a Margel Hilder masterpiece. It was beautiful with water spraying in rhythmic patterns. I would smile at its beauty and the way it caught the light.

Fountains cannot move for exhibitions, but Hinder’s Civic Park Fountain, and her Northpoint Fountain, were digitally simulate by Andrew Yip for Margel Hinder Modern in Motion. This joint project of the Heide Museum of Modern Art, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, done by Andrew Yip.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Hinder was ask to create sculptures for Australia’s public spaces, such as the Reserve Bank in Sydney and Woden Town Square and Canberra. Her work not hidden from the public eye.

Bernard Smith’s Australian Painting was the most influential book about Australian art for many years. Artists in other media are therefore less well-known than they should be.

In 1949, the Art Gallery of New South Wales began to collect her work. The current exhibition’s sculptures are still quite surprising. This is sculpture at its best, with a majority of small pieces. It invites the viewer into a world in which asymmetrical forms rule.

American By Birth

Margel Ina Harris was a New Yorker, raised in Buffalo and lived in Boston where she found inspiration.

She went to New York’s summer school to study with Emil Bistram, a modernist artist. Frank Hinder, a young Australian designer and artist, was her first love. They were marry in 1930, and their daughter Enid was born the next year.

The Great Depression was in full swing when the Hinders made a trip to New Mexico to work with Bisstram in 1933. Margel ate from the Mesa landscapes of Taos, and observed the daily activities of Pueblo women. Her approach to form changed from modeling to carving.

Taos Women was her first wood relief sculpture. She was able to carve it on the family’s slow boat journey from the US to Sydney. She carved Pueblo Indian after arriving in Sydney. This is a simplified form of the wood that emerges from the wood.

The art establishment in Sydney was conservative. The Hinders quickly made friends with a few modernist painters and thinkers, including Grace Crowley and Ralph Balson.

Margel met Gerald Lewers who was a fellow sculptor and understood her explorations of wood form. Later, she wrote that Gerald Lewers was the most developed of all sculptors in Sydney.

Mother and Child was her first work. It is less about the subject than it is about honoring the material.

Light Enters

After the second world war, her methods were again change. Frank moved with the Hinders to Canberra, where he worked on camouflage projects at the Department of Home Security. Margel also made small wooden models.

They returned to Gordon, Sydney, and built a house back onto the bush after the war. Frank’s elaborate sculpture would attract birds to eat it. Margel surround by the sounds and light of the bush while she worked in her studio.

Her work became more constructive. Then light entered her work. To achieve particular effects, she sometimes used Perspex hand-colored.

To cast shadows, she shaped and soldered wire. Revolving Random Dots (1953), spins with a swivel mechanism. Movement in other constructions assisted by a carefully place fan.

Many of her small sculptures were exhibit for the first time at the NSW Contemporary Art Society. This is the only venue that allows you to see modernist art in its entirety

Hinder also entered public sculpture competitions at the same time. These were mostly local events that were associated with the boom in post-war construction. In 1953, she won third place out of 3502 entries in an International Competition for a Memorial to the Unknown Political Prisoner. Her entry depicts an abstract embrace of an ethereal form. Her maquette, along with other finalists’ work, was displayed at the Tate London.