Thursday 6 December 2012


On the Grounds of La Trobe University in Bundoora (an outer Northern suburb of Melbourne) is a statue by Bart Sanciolo. The sculptor was born in Italy in 1955 and arrived in Australia in 1968.  The statue is a representation of Dante’s Divine Comedy and is bronze, its dimensions 10 x 3 x 3 m. 150th Gift of the Italian Community to the People of Australia.

The bronze pyramidal sculpture is based on The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. It was unveiled in the grounds of La Trobe University, Bundoora on 29 March 1997 on behalf of the people of Australia by the Governor General Sir Ninian Stevens. The 3-sided sculpture depicts Hell, Purgatory and Paradise and was sculpted in 1980, 1982 and 1983 respectively. The three sides were assembled in the artist's workshop in 1985 and moved to its current location on the western side of the university campus in January 1987.

Dante's Divine comedy is of local significance on the basis of literary associations, social grounds and aesthetic merit. For an Australian setting it is notable for being a monument to a major European literary and cultural work, which inspired many artistic imaginations for centuries. More importantly, the Divine Comedy was written not in literary Latin, but in a language based on Tuscan and similar neighbouring dialects, which bacame the basis for the literary Italian language.

The sculpture draws attention to Dante's life, education, ideas, imagination and sources for his work, as well as to contemporary medieval views of religion and the after life. Despite the complexity and length of the original text, the sculpture provides an insight to its content, which encourages further investigation.The project gained widespread moral and financial support of the Melbourne Italian community. The gesture reflects their generosity, contribution and commitment to Australia. It demonstrates an affection for their culture and language.An important parallel to twentieth century emigration is that Dante, an exile from Florence remained a migrant for the rest of his life, but retained an affection for his homeland.It is an appropriate monument from one of the country's largest migrant communities with a long history of settlement here.

The simple bold outline is of dimensions that attract the spectator's attention. The faces of the sculpture are enriched by figures perceptively and realistically portraying the drama of Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso, with appropriate styles, e.g. agony, torment, despair, fear in Inferno contrasts with the more peaceful religious character of Paradiso. The indentations of the pyramid has modified an otherwise stark geometric form, creating greater real depth for the reliefs, thereby enhancing their realism.

This post is part of the Signs, Signs meme.


  1. I think I would choose Paradise! Nice one, Nick.

  2. Love it ! Once found the two books on a flea-market for a handful of Euro, over a hundred years old. Read them twice. Yes, the sculptures are impressive and in my opinion, reflect the content very well.

    (χρόνια πολλά for your names day)

  3. a very interesting sculpture. i remember having bad dreams after reading Divine Comedy in high school.:p


  4. The attention to detail in this pyramid like sculpture - or maybe obelisk - is amazing!

  5. Yes, it does resemble an obelisk. I would like to spend more time walking around it and studying the figures.
    I recall trying to read the book and getting a bit overwhelmed.

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