What now is a ‘social hub for teens’, the Queensland State Library is a product of the success of World Expo 88, alongside well-renowned artist Jon Barlow Hudson’s iconic art piece, Paradigm.

On the world stage Brisbane is the featured performer. Last Tuesday June 2nd, Sallyanne Atkinson, Chair of the Museum of Brisbane and Former Lord Mayor of Brisbane (1985–1991) unveiled Hudson’s famous sculpture, Paradigm Maquette, that has not been on public display for 27 years.

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This is a smaller two metre section of one of two 30 metre masterpieces, that was created in 1988 for the Brisbane Expo and until now has never twirled through the public eye before. Paradigm had its moment in the spotlight at the northern end of the Expo 88 location in South Bank. The sculpture is based on the double helix of the DNA molecule. Paradigm also accommodated 66 aeroplane landing lights that produced a mesmerising night-time show. The Paradigm Maquette was presented to the Museum of Brisbane by the American artist, and the State Library of Queensland will be its ‘theatre’ for the next five years.

State Librarian, Janette Wright, is proud that Queensland is standing tall and accepting this honour. “The State Library is committed to discovering, recording and sharing Queensland’s history, and Expo 88 and Jon Barlow Hudson’s sculptures form a significant part of that history,” Ms Wright says.

Following the reveal of the assembled sculpture I was given a tour of the ‘Fox Family White Gloves Room’. Lynn Meyers, the Original Materials Librarian at the State Library guided me through the room. This was where I was invited to have a look at images and information about the distinguished sculpture. I received a front row seat to look at the original sketches and plans for the initial Paradigm sculpture and Jon Barlow Hudson’s personal papers and letters of engagement in how to construct the sculpture safely for the Expo, all whilst wearing the esteemed white gloves.

As the cultural nature and artistic feel to South Bank and Brisbane makes leaps and bounds, the more our city is recognised on the international stage. Former Lord Mayor, Sallyanne Atkinson realises these changes to Brisbane’s popularity began with the Expo of 1988. “It was not the only event to put Brisbane on the map but it was fundamental in allowing Brisbane to grow up,” she says. It was at this event in the 80s that Brisbane was shown the stainless steel towers of artistic flair.

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Atkinson revealed since her start in her role as the first woman to be Lord Mayor, her love for Brisbane has fully expanded and that it brings together culture, socialising and hard work. “My grandson said to me, that every single Sunday he goes to the State Library to study with friends, I was very proud of him, but also knew it was now a social hub for teenagers,” she says.

An icon artiste in his own right, Hudson has been creating public sculptures since 1976, with his award-winning masterpieces in 26 countries. He continues to excel as his latest Expo 88 figure, ‘Morning Star II’, is a shining star in his continuous production of prime entertainers at the Brisbane City Botanical Gardens.

Words by Ellen Goddard

Images by Leif Ekstrom, State Library of Queensland