Norma Redpath OBE

20 November 1928 — 12 January 2013

A leading sculptor of her generation, Norma Redpath was a student in the Art School at Swinburne Technical School from 1942 to 1948.

She was awarded the Stanley Hammond prize in 1953 and in 1956 studied at the Universita per Stranieri in Perugia, Italy, before returning to Swinburne in 1958 as an art teacher.

She later moved to Italy to work alongside famous sculptors Henry Mitchell, Luciano Minguzzi, and Kengiro Azuma.

Her sculpture Areopagitica was her most significant commission during the 1950s. Commissioned by the University of Melbourne in 1958, for the Baillieu Library, it was thematically inspired by John Milton’s 1644 essay of the same name. The following year, she co-founded Central Five, a with fellow art luminaries.

Norma left a legacy of work including the Victorian Coat of Arms and the Treasury Fountain in Canberra, described by Sandra McGrath in The Australian as her master work.

She was an extremely successful sculptor who had a profound impact on the development of Australian sculpture. In 1970, Norma received an Order of the British Empire for her services to Australian art and sculpture. She was recognised by Swinburne in 2006 with the conferral of an honorary doctorate.

After spending her life crafting significant sculptures across the world, Norma’s final work has been installed at Swinburne, the place where her journey began.

Norma had hoped to sculpt a major bronze piece for Swinburne, but sadly was unable to do so before passing away in 2013. With the assistance of family and donors, an unfinished piece she began in 1982, Door to the Unknown, Monolith, was fabricated for Swinburne’s Advanced Manufacturing and Design Centre.

Associate Professor Bruce McDonald, Senior Philanthropy Advisor at Swinburne, was humbled to have been involved in the project which Norma had described as a labour of love.

“Norma indicated to me that she owed her life to Swinburne, and we discussed major pieces for Swinburne, but her health prevented her from completing these projects,” Bruce said.

“When visiting her home after her passing I noticed that she had scale models of unfinished sculptures, which is where this project began.”

With financial support from Tony Zraybi, CEO of Achievement Cleaning Services, Mark Rubbo, CEO of Readings and Charles Nodrum, owner of Charles Nodrum Gallery, the piece was fabricated as originally intended by Norma.