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50 Treasures: The Investigator (maquette) by Anton Hasell

Our fourteenth treasure is a maquette, which is what the art world calls an artist's scale model, of a JCU Townsville campus icon. From the JCU Art Collection comes The Investigator (maquette) by Anton Hasell.
Anton Hasell, The Investigator (maquette) 1994, bronze, 35 x 23 x 11 cm. James Cook University Art Collection. ©Anton Hasell, 1994. Reproduced with permission of the artist. Photograph by Michael Marzik.

The Investigator (maquette) sideviews. © Anton Hasell, 1994. Reproduced with permission of the artist. Photograph by Michael Marzik.
Jane Hawkins answers the question "why is this significant?"
This treasure is a memento, an epitome of the real treasure – the artist himself. An embodiment of the poetic, the artistic spirit of a man who recognized a need, Anton Hasell gave generously of his time and his passion to all those he encountered on the adventure that was his artist-in-residency at James Cook University in 1994.
Anton Hasell with a welded wall panel in the Sculpture Studio at the JCU Vincent Centre Campus, August 1994. Photograph by Jane Hawkins, supplied by artist.
"After submitting a proposal to an Australia-wide invitation for the residency, I was invited to spend a week at the University to refine my proposal, the selection panel liking my work, but not so much the sculpture I had proposed. In walking around the University campus it became apparent that the Marine biology areas of studies had lots of boats and equipment for their research programs, but the Fine Arts areas had little to no research equipment on hand. I proposed to create a research submersible vehicle for the Fine Arts Department at James Cook University so that the department’s staff and students could seek research funding from the competitive grants systems operating at the University. The 'Investigator' sculpture/submarine is the research vehicle that resulted from the Residency." (Anton Hasell, 2020)
Anton Hasell pop riveting The Investigator in the studio, 1994. Photograph by Jane Hawkins, supplied by artist.
 Anton began his residency at JCU in the middle of one of our lovely northern winters. I recall him wandering around in t-shirt and shorts, eating an ice cream, while we 'North Queenslanders' in our jeans and 'flannies', were commenting on the cold weather. Needless to say, he had to acclimatise quickly, as he was about to start a project that required significant amounts of welding in the unairconditioned sculpture studio and wouldn't launch The Investigator until late November. Not surprisingly, he munificently extended his role as artist-in-residence to include working in the printmaking studio to produce some wonderful little hand-coloured etchings, several of which are in the University’s Art Collection, along with this delightful miniature version of The Investigator.
Anton Hasell with The Investigator, 1994. Photograph: James Cook University Records.
 Anton worked from this cast bronze model to create the larger work, The Investigator, that resides on a little hill outside the Chancellery Building. Unlike its big brother which had to be secured for its own safety, it is still possible to turn the Maquette's little wheel to open the hinged door that doubles as steps to board the vessel, move its rudder and open its mouth. Quirky to the extreme, with its little perspex windows and faux-corrugated iron exo-skeleton, The Investigator (maquette) is a magical sculpture in its own right.
The Investigator and The Investigator (maquette). Photograph by artist.
Over the course of 2020, JCU Library's Special Collections will be unveiling 50 Treasures from the collections to celebrate 50 years of James Cook University.
The Investigator on the banks of the Ross River. Photograph by artist.

Author Biography
Jane Hawkins, who was born in North Queensland, has been a sculptor for about forty years, during which time she gained a Master of Creative Arts degree and spent twenty-five years teaching sculpture in the tertiary sector. A whole generation of artists and art teachers have studied under her and watched her create several life-size bronze statues and participate in many solo and group exhibitions. Jane is now retired from the workforce and has been busy in her sculpture studio, her most recent commissioned work being the statue of Johnathan Thurston at the QCB Stadium in Townsville.


Anonymous said…
Would be great to see a video of The Investigator's (or its maquette's) moving parts.

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